tv Melissa Harris- Perry MSNBC November 24, 2013 7:00am-9:01am PST
this morning, my question how can a convicted rapist end up in a nonviolent offenders program. plus, a closer look at the republicans who want to be president. and uniting from our friends from the bestman. first, the late breaking news out of geneva on iran's nuclear program. good morning, i'm melissa harris-perry. for the first time in nearly a decade, iran agreed to temporarily halt their nuclear program. the united states along with five other major world powers announced the deal last night after marathon negotiations in geneva, switzerland. it's set to last six months while they work to reach a more
comprehensive deal. under the plan, iran agreed to stop enriching uranium beyond 5%. it's sufficient for energy, but not bomb making. the stockpile beyond that level will be diluted or converted so it cannot be used for weapons purposes. they will agree to nuclear inspections including daily visits to some facilities. in exchange, the u.s. agreed to provide $7 billion in sanctions relief. last night, president obama hailed the agreement as a step toward a world that is more secure. >> these are substantial limitations which will help prevent iran from building a nuclear weapon. simply put, they cut off iran's most likely paths to a bomb. meanwhile, this first step will create time and space over six months for more negotiations to fully address the comprehensive
concerns about the iranian program. because of this agreement, iran cannot use negotiations as cover to advance its program. >> secretary of state, john kerry who flew to geneva praised the deal, admitting it's just a first step. >> the next phase, let me be clear, will be even more difficult and we need to be honest about it. it will also be more consequential. while we obviously have profound differences with iran, yet to be resolved, the fact is that this agreement could not have been reached without the decision of the iranian government to come to the table and negotiate. >> for more on this agreement, let's go to nbcs bureau chief in geneva, switzerland this morning. nice to have you with us. >> reporter: thank you. it is a historic deal.
sorry. >> yes, i was going to ask you to lay out what this deal means in the context of these long, ongoing negotiations. >> reporter: well, it's a very important initial step on the surface, it looked like iran gave up a lot. we were surprised when it was all announced last night. i seemed iran made major concessions and hadn't gotten a lot in return. if you scratch the surface, they are keeping their nuclear program, not taking away centrifuges, it is diluting the stockpile, which it could build up, if they want to. they are going to get minor sanctions relief. they will be able to trade in gold and other precious metals to get oil that was difficult for them. in iran, this is a huge success. president rue hany said this is a huge success for the
negotiating team. most importantly, it got the approval of the leader. he said this was a huge victory for iran and they could go forward for this. as secretary kerry said last night, this was an important first step. the next six months is going to be very tough to see where the negotiations are going to go. we have to see if iran is willing to disassemble the centrifuges, a very, very sore point. there's going to be a lot of hard work over the next six months. >> thank you for joining us from geneva, switzerland and thanks for your reporting from there. here with me in new york is retired u.s. army colonel jack jacobs. i want to come to
you first, j.j. iran internally is celebrating
this deal as a good one and maybe potentially as a victory. let me play for you prime minister netanyahu and his response to the deal. >> what was concluded in geneva last night is not an historic agreement. it's an historic mistake. israel is not bound by this agreement. we cannot and will not allow a regime that calls for the destruction of islam to obtain the means to achieve this goal. we will not allow iran to have nuclear weapons capability. >> so, the prime minister of israel says this is an historic mistake and failure. the supreme leader within iran is saying this looks like a pretty good deal. what should the american public take from those two positions in terms of understanding how good
this is or is not for the
american interest. >> understand that negotiations are, by nature, both sides getting something. the fact iran feels they got something doesn't mean the west and israel didn't get something. second of all, the israeli intelligence sources i spoke to last night are saying it could be a good deal depending on what happens in the next six months. this is an iranian agreement, a, to enter the process, to put its nuclear program on the table, which it hadn't agreed to until now and continue negotiations to see where it goes. the results will be known depending on where we go here. third, netanyahu's strategy has been to put pressure on to get more out of iran. he's continuing to do that. if the assumption is that iran needs to do a lot more before it's safe, remember, iran still has not complied with the security council. it's far from complied.
they agreed to discuss all this. that means there's got to be continued pressure on the negotiators. that's what he's doing. >> walk me through this a little bit. it's useful to point out, when you are in the context of negotiations, people should not walk away feeling they have been completely defeated. you are not at war. you are trying to keep the hostility from occurring. what is gained, particularly around the question of how much uranium, what sorts of things, how much more quickly they might be able to ramp up. what is gained here in terms of safety in the region? >> six months is what we gained. a process that has to be rejuvenated over time, opportunity in theory to inspect and make sure there's compliance with the agreement and so on. i think one of the things we have to keep in mind is the united states, on the one hand plus the other five, the security council, u.n. security
council plus germany. the way we look at it is very much, our objective is different than israel and saudi arabia. israel and saudi arabia, they don't want iran to have the capability to produce nuclear weapons, period. they live there. that's their neighborhood. there are lots of reasons why they wouldn't want to have iran, who proved to be cheating all the time, to have nuclear weapons. the united states doesn't have that view. our view is we want to slow them down. for the next six months, the objective of that is to slow it down. >> all right. i want to go, at this moment, to london. he's a professor of middle eastern economics at the london school of science. nice to have you this morning. >> thank you. >> let me ask you a bit about this. the way we get to this table and part of, sort of the
conversation that pushes iran to any level of agreement here has to do with sanctions. tell me now, what has been earned in terms of the u.s. sanctions agreement as a result of this decision last night. >> well, remember, i mean iran will get only between $6 billion and $7 billion after this deal. you have in the next six month, we shall see whether an agreement is reached or not. a big point for your view is what presidethe president is tr do is the structure of the sanctions imposed by the u.s. congress. this is the target, the key targets of the iranian leadership. remember, the sanctions, this is one of the most stringent sanctions regimes in history. they have led the iranian
economy. president lifting the sanctions to top priority. so far, so good. if you had asked me three or four months ago if he has been able to do what he has done i would have said no. not only deliver so far, the supreme leader seems to be on the same page. it tells me that a major decision has been made by the iranian leadership to pursue a strategy of reconciliation of the warld and more importantly is with the united states. we are focusing on the details of the agreement and really overlooking a big point, what we are witnessing between the united states and iran that could basically redraw the geo
strategic map. >> i want to follow up on that. does building that relationship between the u.s. and iran end up severing or deeply harming the relationship with israel which is a very old one at this point between the u.s. and already the chilly relationships between netanyahu and president obama as important as this deal may be for redrawing that global relationship, what does it do to the existing relationship between israel and the u.s. >> let me be the rat. what has happened and does happen does not harm american relations. at this particular point, america's relations with israel and saudi arabia are not aligned, are not on the same page. it's fine. the united states, remember, has broader national interests that take into account security and stability of the region and american national interest as well. what the united states is
saying, the united states wants deescalation. the united states wants to integrate iran into the community nation. the united states wants to recognize iranian interest in the golf and the united states is capitalizing on the fact once iran is integrated into the world economy, iran could play a positive role, whether the syrian crisis or talking security in the persian gulf or the israeli conflict. the reality is the obama administration is proceeding from the simple fact iran cannot and will not be ignored. they are a pivotal power. the united states wants the escalation and no more military ventures in the middle east. that's why i think the potential with iran is, i think, helpful for the u.s. and the region as a whole. >> thank you. when we come back, i'm going to bring in a political panel.
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the president's domestic opponents were quick to react last night. as you might expect, they weren't cheering him on. the senator of texas the second highest ranking tweeted, amaze whag the white house will do to distract attention from obama care. we can hear you. others took a skeptical approach. eric cantor said, as the deal goes into effect, the united states must remain individual lent and respond diligently to cheating done by iran.
we must stand close to our partners against iranian oppression. luke, what is going on in terms of responses from congress this morning? >> reporter: well, it's interesting, melissa. i should tell everybody, before the senate went into recess last week, harry reid said if there was no deal announced in geneva, they were going to have a tough sanctions bill come out of the united states senate. presumably that will not happen because of the deal reached. there was a lot of emphasis on kerry to get that done. what does it mean? there's a lot of skepticism from the republican side about the deal, which is not unexpected. a lot of them are close to netanyahu in israel. he's a supporter of mitt romney during the campaign, as you remember. they have more hawkish views when it comes to israel. there's a lot of skeptical democrats. i'm interesting to see what
folks like chuck schumer come out and the cautious approach coming forward. what will be interesting, melissa, i believe you'll see a tougher sanctions bill come out of the house in the future. what happens then? there might be democratic support for that. how long can harry reid push that off. president obama might have to issue his first veto in office. overall, a backlash from republicans, not unexpected. john cornine tieing it to obama care. lindsey graham saying unless there's a complete stoppage of centrifuges, it's not a good deal. politically, the white house sees this as a big victory, not only because it allows them to talk about the domestic issues, but it's historic. it's the first time in 34 years.
there's positive movement. >> luke, thank you so much. if you see the congressmen, could you help them set a no tweeting after 10:00 rule. >> reporter: they have a few pops, you never know what happens. i'm not accusing anybody of that but it's a good idea to stay off twitter after 10:00. >> absolutely. thanks. i appreciate you joining us. >> joining us is profession sor of journalism at nyy, sally, a columnist at the daily beast and salon.com and rick. i have suspicion about the whole thing because we have a long relationship with iran that has not always been above board. that said, when i get the e-mail at 10:00 at night as a member of the press that hey, something historic happened, i am distressed when members of the government are responding immediately before we know anything.
this is clearly, obviously bad. it feels like it's a police cal reaction. can we get the republicans to pause and assess it before reacting? >> i can only speak for this republican and i have actually paused. i didn't say anything last night. i looked at it and i'm worried. if you look at arak, it's one of the places they want to investigate for weapons of mass destruction. the iranians won't let them in. there's no fixed time line of when they will be allowed inspections. also, they are allowed to enrich uranium and they are not to dispose of their 17,000 centrifuges. what deal is this? they are still enriching uranium. they are not allowing people in the area where they are concerned there might be weapons. >> this bought us six months. the issues you have drawn up are reasonable. the rattling around harsher sanctions coming out of our own
congress and maybe that is part of what pushed secretary of state kerry to say we have to get something out here so we can move ahead in these next six months. >> let's not forget the larger rattling from republicans all along who wanted military action. bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb iran from mccain. >> and syria. >> this is a situation where you hope we can step back as americans and say this is a good thing. it's not perfect, i agree with ron. we have to monitor it. it's a step down the road toward a larger agreement. it is a good thing to have iran at the table in negotiations and agreeing to some monitoring rather than not. the fact republicans are so quick to dismiss this says, look, we have one party here that wants our party safer and wants to try to get iran back from the nuclear brink and another party cheering against that happening so the president can look bad or fail. come on. >> it does feel like that.
even if it's not true, i don't think republicans want us to be not safe, but it does end up feeling that way when you get these responses. >> it's not a new phenomena. there's a distinctive reaction by the republican party, the president says sun, they say dark. it's kind of the nature of the way politics has transformed over the last five years between the president and the republicans in congress. in terms of this deal, i think, i understand them being cautious. i think this is a reasonable small step, historic, but at the end of the day, there's no way you could have gotten the big deal. you have to build trust. that's the reality. this could all fall apart but it buys time. i think that's what senator kerry is trying to do and he understands the value of that. if this happens and you address the big issues, it's good for the country and the world. let's at least take a breath and
say good things, good thoughts. >> since we don't have all the everything, we will take a pause. we are going to stay here. after the break, we are going to move on a bit, away from geneva and toward a different meeting, a meeting that happened in scottsville, arizona where the republicans fell over each other at their self-perceives awesomeness. thrusters at 30%! i can't get her to warp. losing thrusters. i need more power. give me more power! [ mainframe ] located. ge deep-sea fuel technology. a 50,000-pound, ingeniously wired machine that optimizes raw data to help safely discover and maximize resources in extreme conditions. our current situation seems rather extreme. why can't we maximize our... ready. ♪ brilliant. let's get out of here. warp speed. ♪
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it's not the "fumbling around with rotating categories" card. it's not the "getting blindsided by limits" card. it's the no-game-playing, no-earning-limit-having, deep-bomb-throwing, give-me-the-ball-and-i'll-take- it-to-the-house, cash back card. this is the quicksilver cash card from capital one. unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, everywhere, every single day. so let me ask you... what's in your wallet? . here is the million dollar question for 2016. can state republicans save the gop. congressional approval is in single digits. favoribility for the republican party is unfavorable. if they want a chance of taking the white house in three years, they better pick someone that can claim distance from the
train wreck in washington, d.c. reasonable, competent and mature, you know, like a grown up. that's been received by the 30 republican governors that met in scottsville, arizona for the republican conference. the official agenda included crowning new jersey governor, chris christie and planning strategy for the governor's races. the governors tried to put ground between themselves and congress. >> i think what you have seen over the last two days is what i have seen here is the incredible contrast between what you see being discussed here and accomplished by the people on this stage and other colleagues opposed to what's going on in washington, d.c. >> sitting next to governor christie, pretending she doesn't know the republicans in washington, south carolina's governor, nikki haley.
>> the best story is while d.c. talks, governors act. that's the take away. if you look at everything going on, we are looking at the chaos that is washington, d.c. and looking at the states more stable than they have ever been, more creative and more focused than they have ever been. the ceos of their states are proving every day they are bringing jobs back to the country. >> the ceos have one more d.c. bashing to do. this time from governor rick snyder of michigan. >> that's what we should be running on are records, that's a record of success. instead of looking at washington where you hear about blame and fighting, when you look at the states and the republican governors, it's about getting it right and getting it done. >> the rga officially standing for republican governor's association. maybe they are hoping people will see them as the republican grown ups association. i mean, i have to say, that was clearly the theme.
there are two republican parties. there are the good ceos of the states and the bad, bad congressional republicans. >> if you look at the fund raising numbers, the democrats are outraising the republicans right now, which is, you know, a bit of a turn around. >> have the cokes given their contributions yet? >> they are probably sneaking them in. the main point is the republican backers are very disappointed in this congress. they know people have shown their rusty dusty's up on capitol hill and the american public is not having it. they have to make sense of policy every day. they cannot run a deficit. they have to close their budgets, by law. whether or not they are doing the absolute most perfect job, they have to live in a reality based world where they have to budget and take care of people. then you have somebody like christie, who hugged president obama during sandy.
i, until recently didn't think he had a snowball chance in hell of taking the presidency. with the way the gop on capitol hill is acting, he's got a shot. >> the question for christy and all republicans, we were talking about this on the break, the issue of winning the primary, then able to win the general. governors have to win statewide seats. they are not in small seats that we have seen in the house that allow for some of the bad behavior. that said, there are 36 gubernatorial races in 2014. 36. how is, sort of having to compete -- many of the states are held by republican governors. how is competing in the states going to set up a discourse that allows for 2016, a way to win the primary without pulling too far to the right? >> a lot of the republicans on capitol hill are wise to follow the lead of what the state republican governors have done. they have reached across the
aisle to wark with democrats. they balanced their budgets. on the ground with their constituents and in tune as opposed to being removed in washington saying i am acting on the best half of my constituents. >> they are denying medicaid expansion. it doesn't feel like being with the needs of them. >> the supreme court said it was a coercive power to have statesman date them to go on medicaid. they were at their election. this is a constitutional issue and the golfevernors were allow to take it. >> it is a constitutional issue that is a question of the court in terms of whether or not they have to take it. i'm asking about taking it. john kasich saying four people in ohio need it and bobby jindal saying four people don't. >> it's a moral perspective between the republican governors and democratic governors.
it's pretty clear. in terms of how we look at the poor, how we look at the working class. republicans are still struggling with the fact it's a party that is simply out of touch on social issues. they are out of touch, i think, on the big, economic issues that matter to most working families. the problem we have is democrats, meaning we, is that, you know, right now because of the mess of this, you know, roll out on obama care, we have undercut our own philosophy that government can do great things and gives the republicans the ability to hit us on it. if we can get it fixed in the next few months, it will blunt some of that opposition. if we don't, it's a battle between the argument one party is going out saying we don't care about the poor, but we'll make government work. the over party saying we care about the poor, but we are not sure how to make it work.
>> stay with us. we are going to talk specifically about one of these governors, wisconsin's governor and his notion of the ideal republican nominee. definitely sounds like he's talking about himself. ♪ hey, that's the last crescent! oh, did you want it? yeah. we'll split it. [ female announcer ] made fresh, so light, buttery and flakey. that's half. that's not half!
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to help reduce the risk of another one. if you've had a heart attack, be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen. wisconsin governor, scott walker, he is the guy who did the surprise union busting in 2011 that led to mass protest at the state capitol in madison. he was not at the republican governor's association conference this year. he did start a week long tour promoting his new book, "unintimidated." he thinks someone like him would make a pretty good president. here is what he said on abc this week. >> describe for me the ideal
republican presidential candidate in 2016. >> on outsider. the vice president nominee should be a former or current governor, people who have done successful things in their state. >> especially if their last name is walker. joining me now from wisconsin, a man that makes it his business to know everything scott walker. nice to see you. >> good morning, melissa. >> tell me, scott, clearly scott walker, despite the fact he used to run back and forth in the secret tunnel so not to have to deal with the protesters, by framing himself as the unintimidated outsider of d.c., is looking to win the republican nomination for the u.s. presidency. what do you think? is it likely? >> well, you know, governor walker has been an elected official for 20 years. he's dismissed by his potential
opponents as their peril. governor walker has access to an ungodly amount of money. his campaign co-chair runs the right wing bradley foundation. his largest donor is the wealthiest woman in wisconsin. he's uncompromising. most importantly, you know, a lot of his opponents will have gotten checks from billionaires like cokes, foster freeze. governor walker took six figure checks from all those guys. what did he do with the money? he won. to do that, after doing that, he's ingauged in a radical agenda, stripping away rights of his potential enemies and taking away money from those who most need it. it's scary. those of us in wisconsin will tell you, it's a message to
folks in d.c. and scottsville. there's one riskier rager, underestimating what scott walker will do to win an election. >> i was just in new jersey and everyone kept saying, let me tell you about the real chris christie. look at walker's approval ratings, he's about 50%. 45% disapproval ratings. what do you know about this man that if he is going to come to the national stage, we ought to know? >> well, governor walker engaged in a radical privatization of public education in the state of wisconsin. he stripped away the rights of 175,000 workers, taken away rights of women for equal pay as well as reproductive choices. hundreds of thousands of legal voters lost the right to vote on election day. let me tell you, i went through
unintimidated yesterday. i read the whole thing so you didn't have to. to get through all the misstatements, half truths and eye-rolling hypocrisy would have to make us turn it into the melissa harris-perry network, not show. he talks about how his faith guides him. he talks about how in the midst of the uprising, he increased staff moral by sending out a top ten list of attacks on public employees. among other things, question their faith. let me tell you about one of those employees. >> scott -- >> when it's the middle of january in wisconsin and your water main breaks, this guy goes down in a hole at 3:00 a.m. to make sure your home doesn't get flooded and property destroyed. governor walker's reward to him was to take away his rights to collectively bargain for a safe-working environment and cut his pay by $16,000 so he doesn't
have money to spend, put food on the table or help his kid pay for college. >> scott -- scott, i have to cut you off because if it was the melissa harris-perry network, we wouldn't have commercials. as soon as we come back, i'm going to let ron christie in. he's over here losing his mind as you talk. when we come back, compassionate conservatism 2.0. is the gop trying to become the party for everybody? need a spoon, dear?
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>> you know, the joke is obviously, we are saying if you were related to chris christie, this would be the end of his campaign. part of what republicans are going to need to do is say we are the party of everybody, black folks and brown folks, latinos, poor people, everybody in the party. you are laughing with great joy at this possibility. >> we remember 2012, republicans came out with an autopsy saying our party is dead. younger voters and voters of color are against us and the issues we stand on. we are going to try to care more about those voters and do things about immigration reform. that lasted like two minutes. now, they are trying to cram restrictions on reproductive rights, opposing immigration reform. they are not extending medicaid. if you want to be a popular party, do things voters like. it's a crazy idea. >> the man who got arrested
buying coke wanted to protest people getting food stamps. >> just listening to scott as he's talking about scott walker saying he checked all the tea party boxes, then he says, basically union busting and voter suppression and antireproductive rights. i can live with if it's balancing the budget. that's reasonable. we would expect that. i am disturbed when it is against this group, against this group, against this group. >> this is the trap that allows the republican governors and candidates we have seen and the ones we are going to see find themselves in. it's going to be more pronounced. there's going to be a tea party candidate. there's going to be a far, far right candidate who is going to get support in iowa and rally that base and automatically christie's and the kasichs or whomever it might be are going to play in the middle. then the base acts up. we have to go right.
we have to go further right. that's the same problem romney had. get into the general and all hell breaks loose. >> let me ask, then, you brought up kasich. will there be a fight around obama care and particularly the medicaid expansion of it between the republican governors who made a decision to expand and those who didn't? some of them are going to end up on a primary stage. >> could be. i worked for john kasich. having spoke to him about medicaid expansion, it's keeping ohio dollars in here. he made a coaching organizement why it made sense to make that expansion. you look at a guy like john kasich and say he is a true, compassionate conservative. he delivered social services programs in his state, and balanced the budget. >> the debate will be he stood up for obama care. that will be the debate. then he'll start panicking once
people are like wait a second, he supported obama care. >> the big money will come in with the simplistic ads that say this guy likes obama. >> if the kasich's or christie's can get past the primary, a huge if, i think they are going to get sliced up. if they get past the primary, they are going to be formidable. >> absolutely. >> that's a big if. >> a sensible republican, the few that are left in the party -- >> plenty of us. plenty of us. >> can get through the primary. >> bill clinton got through -- my only contemporary reasonable history on this is bill clinton gets through the primary by stiff arming the groups that had an 84 and 88, poll the democratic party. >> gotcha. a lot less money, too. >> i don't think the left of the
democratic party has been as formidable, forceful or well organized as the right wing of the republican party. >> i agree with that. >> got nothing on david coke. chris and sally and ron, thanks to all of you for being here. hang around so we can talk bestman in the next hour. up next, it looks like janet yellen, the first woman to head the reserve is going to make it through the confirmation process. that story is next.
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gains have gone to the top 10% and the top 1%. this is an extremely difficult, and to my mind, very worrisome problem. >> that was fed chair nominee, janet yellen ten days ago. yellen is now one step closer to becoming fed chair and arguably the most powerful woman in america. they voted 14-8 in her favor with three republicans voting with the 11 democratic colleagues. all that's left is a vote in the full chamber, which is expected soon after the thanksgiving holiday. with the new senate rules in play, it looks like yellen is poised to make history. joining me from washington, d.c., is dean baker, director for the center of economic research. >> thanks for having me in. >> it looks like yellen is going to have an easy confirmation. how historic is this beyond she is the first woman fed chair? >> it's great to see her
appointed. she has a solid background. she was on the fed in the' 90s, president of the san francisco bank she certainly that has background. she's made it clear, she thinks the fed has an important role in maintaining high levels of appointment. it's possible she'll try to go further. there's limits to what the fed can do, but try to press the fed as far as possible in terms of boosting growth and creating jobs. >> what does it mean for ordinary people. it's a position out there, they are not quite sure what that person does. what does it mean to how they articulate a discourse in inequality? >> a few things. the fed chair has a lot of respect. when alan greenspan held that, they asked him about trade policy to tax policy, everything in the world.
to have someone committed toward creating jobs, that's a great thing. secondly, you know, the fed has been trying to boost the economy. it's been positive, the easing policy. she might push it further. she might go to the japanese central bank to give firms more incentive to invest because they know they can sell their goods at a higher price in the future. at some point, we don't know when, there will be concerns about the economy and full employment. let the economy keep growing and the unemployment rate fall. in the '90s, alan greenspan raised rates in '93 or '94. later he reversed himself to his credit. i credit him for that. 4% unemployment at the end of
the decade. it was the first time you saw wage growth up and down the income ladder. the fed chair has enormous power. i can't think of anyone i would rather see than janet yellen. >> i have a complicated question. what kind of monetary policy can create an incentive for firms to not just invest, but specifically in labor, in hiring. >> i don't think there's a simple way to put it. we'll benefit if we could have lower value dollar. we'll see more domestically produced goods, improve trade balance. it allows workers in manufacturing and hiring in high paying jobs. that's the best the fed can do. >> dean baker in washington, thank you so much. it is going to be fascinating to watch miss yellen take on this role. >> thanks. coming up next, the director of the new hit movie, "the bestman holiday."
he's coming to nerdland and we'll take a closer look at hollywood, race and whether life is imitating art. more nerdland at the top of the hour. customer erin swenson ordered shoes from us online but they didn't fit. customer's not happy, i'm not happy. sales go down, i'm not happy. merch comes back, i'm not happy. use ups. they make returns easy. unhappy customer becomes happy customer.
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listening, planning, working one on one. to help you retire your way... with confidence. that's what ameriprise financial does. that's what they can do with you. ameriprise financial. more within reach. welcome back. i'm melissa harris-perry. last week, at the box office, nine near mortals took on a deity. in this clash, "the best man holiday" beat ticket sales for "thor" and "the dark world." it opened on friday. the total haul left it in second place behind "thor." "the best man holiday" was a surprise hit outperforming expectations of hollywood projected $20 million at the box
office. the success came as no surprise to the film goers who came out to reignite with the characters they fell in love with 14 years ago. the original was released in 1999. the first story is of six college friends. this film is about how they reunite. the first one, they are reunited for a wedding. it continues in the sequel where they come together for the christmas holiday celebration. this time around, the film mines drama and comedy from their lives and relationships that matured and became more complicated over the years. >> nice to see you. >> her man, on the other hand is iconic. >> if i went that way, that's what i would get, a tall latte. i like, i like, i like. >> hi, baby. >> busted. >> between a lot of laughter and
some tears, "the best man holiday" has love, loss, friendship, loyalty, sex, parenthood and marriage. missing from the long list is one topic, race. it is why last week, usa today built a social media backlash when, of all possible ways of describing the movie they went with the headline, a race-themed film. they discussed it alongside "the butler." other box office movies with explicit con notations. the only racial part is the race of the performers in the film, the nine african-american principle cast members from the original movie. the paper went on to change the headline with an editors note saying they had, quote, good intentions. can films with black actors be
seen as anything but race. joining me is the man that brought the cast back together. malcolm d. lee. i am so happy to have you here. your film made $30 million, not $300 million. you are like what! nobody told me about this. i have so many questions to ask you. respond to that emotion that people were having about this film, "best man holiday" described as a race-theme film. what was your response to that moment? >> i heard about it on social media. i didn't see the usa today headline first. i, you know, it doesn't surprise me that it got described that way because it's lazy journalism in my mind to describe a movie that has african-american characters in there, just human beings and being american as race themed. i was glad people came out in
force and denounced that because even with the first "best man" and every movie i have tried to make have had universal themes, they are relatable characters, they all have wants and desires and things that make them tick. they happen to be african-american or black. >> yet, there is a racial specificity to it that is part of the great pleasure, particularly for black audiences and watching it. the moment in the film when the men perform the new edition i was blushing because i felt like oh, i know those guys. i know this moment. i have sat in this room. how do you take the specificity of such a racialized moment, new edition and the singing, yet it feels universal. >> it's no different than any other movie that features karaoke. "my best friend's wedding" has
cameron diaz doing it to a song i never heard of. you know that's my perspective i can talk ability. that's where i came from. these are the people i relate to. at the same time, i'm a human being like anybody else. >> your characters got more human this time. i want to say, i had a tension when we talked about doing this. i loved the '99 film. i was 25 years old. i got married in the summer of '99. it spoke to the moments in my life. i remember thinking i don't like the women in the film, they feel not as human. this time, that distance, that 15 years, everybody really grew up, really grew. was that intentional? >> i any it's a matter of where i am in my life. i knew when i made the first movie that i wasn't going to do a sequel right away. if i was going to tackle it it
would be ten years later once they have a chance to live life and i have a chance to live life. i have lived life now, talked to more women, i am married with children. the kind of things we think about when we are post graduate, mid-20s are different than what we think about in the 30s and married with mortgages and career struggles. it was just being a better writer now, a better director and the actors, obviously are better as well. >> also, incredibly well preserved. i was like wow, everybody still looks great 15 years later. >> it's true. the fact they are still working in the industry is amazing as well. it can really beat you down. >> let me say thank you to you from all of nerdland. when we were sitting there watching it last night and we saw the show represented in the film, there was a fair bit of what we call a nerdgasm in the
front row. we were so thrilled you saw this show as being part of the cultural you that would be part of this. you use music and references to fraternities and sororities in a variety of ways to ground it in a particular moment. tell me about the use of black culture and popular culture to tell the story. >> again, trying to make things relevant to people and relatable. in most of the movies i do, some not with standing, some -- this movie, the first one in particular, you take cultural touch stones and popular culture and take thing that is are relevant to people nowadays. in the first one, nobody had a cell phone. >> now it's a key part of it. >> a key part as is social media. i wanted to use all the things at my disposal to keep things current and relatable and make sure people feel very close to the characters. it's what they have felt a real
authenticity. itis why people connected in the film and feel the need to laugh at certain things. >> when i went -- in preparing to see the film, i watched the first one two nights ago. one of the differences, the "n" word was used regularly in the first one. it only happens once in the second film with a joke connected to it, the sort of, we need to get rid of it and we are going to use it in this moment. was that intentional or the difference between 25 and 40? >> i think it's a bit of both. you know, i try to pretty much keep the "n" word limited in the first movie. it trickled off to other characters. believe me, i actually took it down from the first movie, also. in this one, it's like we are more mature and more conscious of what we say. i think, you know, i think we should be more.
it gives people a license to say it who aren't african-american to say it. it's been happening for a number of years now. we have a conundrum. they can't say the word. okay, nobody use it. >> let me ask you this, bring in the possibility of interracial love and relationship in a lovely way without doing weird things around the white man. >> yeah. >> are you thinking about potentially tackling the possibility of same-sex love and romance in what has got to be a third best man at some point? >> we haven't figured out the exact story. i doubt i would go in that direction, i don't know much about that side of the world. even though there's a lot of similarities, again, love is universal. we don't necessarily control who we love. but, you know, that's not in my realm right now. >> stick with us. i want to continue to push this more, bring other folks to the table. i'm thrilled you are going to
stick around with us and talk race, film and politics. when we come back, the first black president, no, barack obama is not here. i'm talking 1933. avo: the volkswagen "sign then drive" sales event is back. which means it's never been easier to get a new 2014 jetta. it gets an impressive 34 highway mpg and comes with no charge scheduled maintenance. and right now you can drive one home for practically just your signature. sign. then drive. get zero due at signing, zero down, zero deposit, and zero first month's payment on any new 2014 volkswagen. hurry, this offer ends december 2nd. for details, visit vwdealer.com today
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led the country through a comet on the collision source through the earth. president barack obama has had several people before him before he claimed the title. you may not know tom lister, better known as tiny lister, he was a president in "the fifth element." then danny glovr as president thomas wilson in the film called "2012" where he was tasked with ensuring the survival of a geological disaster and jaime fox in "white house down" where he joins tatum. every time a black president is in the movie, his term gets cut short.
at least we know tasking the fictional presidents meant the audiences were primed to take the possibility of a black man in the real white house. the possibility to imagine that has come a long way. believe it or not, you are not going to believe this, 7-year-old sammy davis jr. i'm not kidding. he played a role in "rufus jones for president." you probably have never seen the film. it was a race-themed film in the 20th century. >> what's all this fuss and celebration about? we want rufus for the president. see, didn't i tell you you was gonna be president? ♪ >> spoiler alert on rufus' first day in office, he swears to give them free pork chops, open the chicken coops and designate
watermelon private property. elan is looking at me like i'm nuts. we wanted to go back and do that history. we have elan james white who joined our table. we wanted to ask this question, what happens, how powerful is film in portraying what black life is in shaping how it is in other people to understand what black life is and what is possible? >> it's interesting because movies do a lot. that's why people love movies. it's why people argue about media portrayal of people of color. it's the first time people meet black people. they get their first policewoman person. is that what negroes do? it's important about the portrayal in movie, otherwise, there are portions of the country that literally, they will not have an understanding
of black folks outside that movie. >> it doesn't mean every movie has to be perfectly nuanced of black life. it is important to me we talked "best man holiday" and i want all the portrayals out there. >> it's why people get upset when they feel black culture is being stereotyped. we don't have a laundry list of prominent black directors, producers, writers. when you see this, you are like ahh, this was my one shot. even when, like on television, you know, girls got in so much trouble for having, you know, one black character and portrayed poorly. i agree with all the criticism. at the same time, do you want a white hipster from brooklyn writing a bunch of black characters or other writers
portraying them at that age. >> yeah, for me, i definitely, i'm thinking about the holidays now. there's this old disney cartoon where white dolls are falling of a conveyer belt and a black doll falls out. apparently, it's banned on air. my grandfather was a big animation fan and collector and artist. i remember being impressed with the artistry of that. today, a lot of times we have to separate artisry and race and be cognizant of both. there's also been latino presidents on television, we should point out as well, like the idea of having people of color in leadership roles is not just about black people. i can't call up an asian american president on tv or film. maybe there is one and someone
can tweet it. something that comes to mind for me is that movies that have more than one black character are considered black movies. look at the "fast and furious" franchise. it was very black, then became less so. then they became white or off white. so, i think that a lot of times people are like if you want a mainstream franchise, you have to lighten it up. it's a problem. >> do you, as -- you know, i keep thinking, maybe i'm overidentifying with the "best man" because of the similarities and college and age of marriage and kids. did you think about, primarily this audience, right? all the folks who loved them in '99 showing back up and how come you were thinking about wide audiences and trying to communicate with them or not communicate with non-black audiences about black life. >> again, when i first wrote
"the best man" i was -- i wasn't seeing myself portrayed on screen in a way that was authentic. that ease the reason for writing it. trying to create something especially when it came to black men. the second movie, "the best man holiday" it was a continuation of that for me. i knew african-american audiences would go to it and feel strongly about it and, you know, if white people came along, great. again, it's a very universal story. it's funny, you talk about when president barack obama was first elected, me and my other black friends walk around. we were down in soho and white kids walked past like oh my god, they really exist. that was the look. >> there are other obama types out there.
>> exactly. >> it's funny you say that. i was thinking going through there, a lot occurring in nerdland, going back to black presidents. it was like a punch line. black president, ha, ha. the notion of it was hilarity until, i do think it matters in the films about the black presidents, it's not about the black presidents. they are movies about the aliens or asteroids coming to kill the earth. >> my first black president was in -- how did you forget that. >> we made a decision, we did a film versus television situation. >> it's a great example. the idea that a lot of times media gets people used to something. when they first see it, they say that's crazy, the third time, i can see it. yeah, that's like the movie we saw last time. that's why it's important. when people get angry at movies, people are praising "best man
holiday" then rip on tyler perry. the fact is they are worried about portrayal. it's not the portrayal of people of color that i would like to see on screen. yes, are we multidimensional and all types? if that's the only thing you are going to see, that's the problem. >> we are going to talk about the class warfare aspect. up next, whether or not -- we are going to talk about tv. this time, the cosby show effect. [ mom ] because we have people over so often, we've learned how to stretch our party budget. ♪ the only downer? my bargain brand towel made a mess of things. so goodbye so-called bargain brands, hello bounty basic. the affordably priced towel that's an actual bargain. watch how one select-a-size sheet of bounty basic is 50% stronger than a full sheet of the bargain brand. it takes a strong towel to stretch a budget.
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so i should probably get the last roll... yeah but i practiced my bassoon. [ mom ] and i listened. [ brother ] i can do this. [ imitates robot ] everyone deserves ooey, gooey, pillsbury cinnamon rolls. make the weekend pop. perhaps no show proves the willingness of a broad audience to watch black people on screen than the series that was one of the most watched shows in the country in the 1980s, "the cosby show." it was every thursday night.
it gave the show dominance for seven years. for four of the years, more of us watch z "the cosby show" than any show on television. the race wasn't a deterrent at all drawn to the black, upper middle class family in a beautiful brooklyn brown stone. it doesn't meanwhile they were watching that, they didn't see race. in the 1992 book, "enlightened racism," the authors conducted focus groups on cosby show viewers. not only did white viewers see race when they watched it, they saw them as racially exceptional because of their upper mobility. among the viewers, race and class barriers to equality were nonexistent. >> i was not surveyed. i want to throw that out there.
>> that is the challenge. on the one hand, part of what they did is show us a great human family. we loved it. then the impact of folks going, oh, if they can have it, why can't you pull yourself up by your boot strap. >> that's a tough position, right? where you don't know whose fault it is. you are so glad to see a regular, you know, family of color represented. you were talking before that it's so hard to see, like, there's literally to go back to television, there was literally one episode of "walking dead" where they added a black character and in the same episode killed one. >> there can only be one. >> anti-affirmative action. they added a black farkt to "new girl." it's really important. yeah, you don't want to feed. i have heard bill cosby used as an example so many times about
it. bill cosby used bill cosby as an example. it's rough. why can't the young kids grow up to be a famous comedian and actor like me? it's like a hard path to make it. >> i love, we were looking at the ucla film out of the african-american studies department looking at the diversity of cast of shows as well as the diversity of the writers on the shows. the shows with diverse cast have higher ratings as well as shows with diverse writers have higher ratings. i'm thinking, yeah, duh, of course. >> you mean shows that show people's experiences? i don't understand that. it's crazy talk. i grew up on "the cosby show." i picked up the phone saying the white residence because theo used to. for me, i appreciated the cosby
show so much. at the time, i was in brooklyn, in the middle of the '90s when it was a dangerous ghetto. i was saying it's not the only way. i understand it was television, but at the same time, if you say i can be anything, i can be a doctor and marry a lawyer. why isn't it something i could do. i appreciate the portrayal more than anything else. i have to tell the folk that is want to use that. you can't use "the cosby show" to somehow police negroes. >> there's much bigger studies that go into journalism that when you would think giving examples, which is what we journalists do and going out and reporting gives a sense of the big picture. the human brain works in different ways. basically, if you want to believe something, you will go to great lengths to believe it.
it takes a lot to break the cognitive disinnocence in your mind of seeing injustice, then seeing a different portrayal. human beings are not going to be just enlightened. i think it's great to have shows. i'm from baltimore. i grew up in a neighborhood where my mom is an urban farmer. she was a schoolteacher. she has fruit trees and we always grew stuff and canned stuff. people ask is the wire real, absolutely, just not where i live. i didn't live on a street with brown stones, we had old trees and shingles. to me, i don't have to pretend the wire doesn't exist to tell people about my life. if you only have those little imaginary black friends on tv, then you won't have a sense of it. >> i think that's how i was feeling watching the film, "best man holiday," i don't care. it almost doesn't matter to me what work it was doing in a
broader sense of audiences. it was so pleasurable for me to experience what, i mean, i'm older than you, elan, but the "cosby show" feeling that this is about me. the moment i realized that the one character is in my sorority, she's a delta. it's a small thing, not a huge part of the plot. >> you are on the tv set. >> that was crazy. >> in the opening. >> that's right because her character is our vp here at msnbc. i felt like this little thing in my stomach, this sense of recognition. i know nobody else gets that moment except people that know that have that literary moment with black sororities and fraternities. there's a movie about me. that's nice. >> we don't have to explain that. it's why they keep stopping us
from having black casts. the audience don't connect. no, no, the white audience doesn't connect. you know connecting is important, so why not have these casts that people can connect to? >> we are going to -- >> you better get schooled because you might have a black cousin now and then. >> thank you so much for making the film. thank you for letting nerdland be in the film. it was a great surprise. thank you. next time, bring your guys rgs shirtless. we would love to have them. >> i'll do my best. >> not for me, the viewers. >> thank you to the nyu journalism. thank you everyone and up next, the story we could not believe
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the story i'm about to tell you is wup we first read about last week, but didn't share it then. we hit the pause button and waited because honestly we thought this can't possibly be true. too much about the story was unbelievable. as we looked further, it turned out to be all too true. first, the beginning. this 25-year-old alabama man, austin smith was convicted in september of raping his former neighbor three times. twice when she was 14 and again when she was 18. the jurors deliberated for less than two hours. testifying was the survivor, her
best friend, her father and a nurse. clems did not call any witnesses during the trial. the conviction wasn't the unbelievable part. what happened when he was sentenced made our jaws drop and stomachs churn. just going to read the headline. alabama man won't serve prison time for raping 14-year-old. i'm going to read it again. alabama man won't serve prison time for raping 14-year-old. now, let me remind you that clem was convicted on three separate counts of sexual assault. according to the reporting, he will serve no prison time. read nearly to the end of the story here and you are going to find this paragraph. the defense attorney in the story notes he and wood rough, the judge, are childhood friends
who grew up down the street from one another. toten says he didn't feel it affected the sentence. he didn't feel being childhood friends with the judge affected the sentence rendered. that sentence, from judge james wo woodruf along with six years of probation. it was structured in such a way that cle merks convicted on three counts of rape would not serve prison time unless he violates the extensive parole. per the judges orders, he will serve two years in the llcp. limestone county community corrections program. their website claims to keep violent offenders incarcerated longer by placing nonviolent offenders in the corrections program diverting them from the penitentiary. during this time the convicted
rapist will spend in this program for nonviolent offenders, he'll be able to live at home. mother jones quotes his defense attorney, dan toten saying his lifestyle for the next six years is going to be very controlled. if he goes to a party and they are serving beer, he can't say, can i have one. toten said this sentence was no slap on the wrist. by now, i'm sure you are seeing the parts of the story that, at first, we thought were simply unbelievable. this man was convicted of three counts of rape of a minor and the primary punishment seems to be about having to stay sober while at a party. the survivor in this story is now a college student. she's reacting publicly. here is what she had to say to our affiliate, waff about the verdict. >> it's been proven guilty,
guilty, however many times guilty and you are going to put him on the streets with other people. i don't know how it's okay with you. in my heart, i feel jail is where he needs to be. i feel it's the only place where he's not going to hurt people anymore. >> that was cortney andrews. normally, we wouldn't name a rape survivor. she's been vocal and was in the courtroom for the sentencing. she recalls the prosecutor saying this isn't legal, it's not a legal sentence. we reached out to the judge multiple times and despite our attempts, we have not heard back. now, not only is the county district attorney going to the alabama criminal court of appeals and arguing the current sentence is illegal, but a network of rape crisis centers in alabama are pushing to change state laws so nothing like this can happen again. now, i know that so much about this story seems unbelievable, but you do not have to take my word for it. when we come back, courtney
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we have been talking about the story that left us stunned this week. this young woman, courtney andrews survived being raped three times by the same assailant 25-year-old austin clem. for that, clem got a sentence on november 13th that sparked outrage and disbelief. six years probation and two years in a non-violent community corrections center and zero real prison time. courtney is not staying silent. she is making sure that people know about a rape sentence that some are calling illegal. she is determined to fight this injustice. joining me now is courtney andrews now a student at the university of south alabama. also with her is her aunt and a national reporter for msnbc.com. thank you for being here.
start by telling me when you decided to tell and who you initially told. >> i was 18 when i told. actually, my best friend told for me because i didn't have the heart to tell my parents. >> i absolutely understand that and yet that has also been used against you as a survivor in this case as it so often is. somehow, because you didn't react the way people who never survived this think you should have reacted, that somehow says you were complicit in it. tell me how you have had to fight back against that. >> it's just that people don't understand the feelings that come along with it, being scared, the fact that i was young, i was a child, you know,
you threaten to hurt my family, threaten to hurt me. what was i supposed to do? it's hard because people aren't going to understand that. a lot of people that have a problem with it, it's hard to change their attitude toward it. i feel like there's not a lot i can do to change their mind. >> you are doing a lot right now to change the minds of the people who know that this man did this because he has been convicted of it. yet, gave a sentence so light it's hard to think of as a sentence. >> right. >> you were protecting yourself, your family, your privacy for so many years, now you are here having to reveal such a personal thing. why did you make that decision to stand-up and have a voice in this moment? >> i felt like if it happened with me, it probably happened to other people. if no one has really stood up
and said anything about it, maybe no one will if i don't. i felt it would be an injustice to other people if i didn't. i just knew i had to do what i had to do. >> how angry is the family right now? >> very angry. very disappointed. it's just, we were floored by it. you know, i don't understand it, really. it's an understanding thing, how could it happen? when they read the sentence to us, we were like what does that mean? when we were talking to the people, we were like what does that mean? when they said no jail time, we were looking at each other going no, you are understanding it wrong. it can't be. it can't be. of course, at that point, that's when you are the most angry. it's like, this can't be. but, you know, then you walk away and think what are we going
to do? they can't get away with that. >> for people who are not survivors may not understand this. there are multiple levels. there's a decision to tell, then there's a decision to go forward with the criminal actions with the court. the decision to tell and the decision to go forward with criminal actions are very different choices. often we don't do the second one because of this. this isn't even a case where the survivor is not believed by a zwr jury, which is so often the case. a jury believes you, provides a conviction, then a judge refuses to sentence and in so doing says this is a non-violent offense, basically. >> right, there are many injustices here. an enormous injustice is the idea the programs designated for
drug offenders who need healing and have not committed violence that the implicit idea that rain is not a violent act when it is a violent act masked by issues and it's an intimate act. to think about how extraordinary, first of all your courage in coming forward that a majority of rain survivors will not report is 54%. of those, the prosecutor has to decide there's enough evidence to bring charges. if you are able to get a conviction, analysis shows out of the cases that are convictio convictions, 97 out of 100 will not serve a day in prison. unfortunately, this is an extraordinary injustice that is all too common. >> we believe in alternatives to sentencing on this show. it supports a program like the one we are talking about here for non-violent drug offenders for a variety of reasons. this is clearly not what we are
talking about at all. you have said that you feel scared now. this perpetrator, this convicted rapist is now back in the community, is that correct? >> yes, ma'am. >> and we know actually that rapists, that sexual violence is perpetrated by people who continually do so. in your case, that's what happened. so i applaud you for saying that's exactly, you know, the reason to put yourself through this experience and the justice system, is so it won't happen again. >> and i guess, you know, this is a tough one for me. we do conversations here about sexual assault, but none has ever hit closer to home for me. because my own story is so close to your story because i was the same age, because it was a neighbor, and although i finally told at about 20, never went
forward to the court system for exactly this reason. and my level of anger that you would have worked up the courage you did to go forward and for this to happen. so what is next in the courts? is there any possibility of a new sentence here? >> well, my attorney has filled out, you know, paper work and stuff and presented it to the higher court to try and get us a new judge to do a new sentencing. but there is no guarantee on that. >> we haven't heard anything. >> right. >> in days about it. so we don't know. >> from what i understand, the alabama statute is written in a very contradictory, confusing way, where it both says that this is a -- you know, there's this kind of sentencing that should happen and at the same time it's eligible for community corrections and it's not. so maybe if they aren't able to fix this particular injustice, people after you will benefit from your activism. >> what do you need to feel safe?
>> i mean, for him to be in prison. i'm not going to feel safe other than that, you know. every time that i think about going home to see my parents, it's going to be really hard every time i even think about my parents being home. it just really bothers me and it scares me. because they're there and i know i'm only 20, but i want to protect them. >> because you didn't tell because you wanted to protect them. >> yeah. i wanted to be strong for my family. i still want to be strong. if that meant dealing with it on my own, that's what i felt like i needed to do. >> thank you for telling, thank you for pursuing it, thank you for being here now. it's okay to keep feeling bad and to give yourself -- there's no timeline. it's okay to take the time you need to heal, okay? and we're going to keep watching this story, all right? and we believe you.
>> thank you. >> courtney andrews, thank you so much. we're going to be right back. no matter how many ways i try to cover up, my psoriasis keeps showing up. all her focus is on me. but with these dry, cracked, red, flaky patches, i'm not sure if i want it to be. this is more than uncomfortable, it's unacceptable. visit psoriasis.com where you can get refusing to hide, a free guide filled with simple strategies for living well with psoriasis. learn more at psoriasis.com and talk to your dermatologist. ♪ ♪ if i was a flower growing wild and free ♪ ♪ all i'd want is you to be my sweet honeybee ♪ ♪ and if was a tree growing tall and green ♪ ♪ all i'd want is you to shade me and be my leaves ♪ grown in america. picked & packed at the peak of ripeness. the same essential nutrients as fresh.
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i want to extend another thank you to courtney andrews and to her family. thank you for coming on the program this morning and exhibiting such courage. that's going to be our show for today. thanks to you at home for watching. i'll see you next saturday at 10:00 a.m. eastern. despite the fact we're feeling kind of sad, by next weekend we're going to bring you some thanks because it is the thanksgiving weekend programming. with the holiday season upon us, we're actually going to ask the question, what makes us happy? we're also going to get some incredible stories about american mythology and talk about why there are values, even when the myths are quite true. and then to really make ourselves feel better, we're going to talk about pie. after all, what is more american than apple pie? so nerdland, i got some homework for you. this week send us pictures of your pie. if you're making pie for the
holidays, send us pictures of your nerd pies. tweet them to us through mhp show and use #nerdpie. we're going to be looking for your baking, for your finished product, and for any kind of nerdy pie selfie you want to take. we're going to shake it off. have a great week. don't go away. coming up next is "weekends with alex witt." customer erin swenson ordered shoes from us online
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