Date: April 28, 2014
Guests: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Sam Amick, Dave Bing, Matea Gold, Carl
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: B-ball freefall.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in New York and back from China.
"Let Me Start" with this explosive words being attributed to the owner of
the LA Clippers. He didn`t want his girlfriend, he said, to be publicly
associating with African-Americans, even while he made his living with a
team filled with African-Americans and his girlfriend was herself a
It was all about usefulness, apparently. The players made him money, the
girlfriend was useful in other ways. If it were him on the tapes, and he
doesn`t -- hasn`t denied it, what he had no use for were African-Americans
who couldn`t play basketball at the NBA level, or not anymore, or offering
him lovely, accommodating companionship.
Well, tonight we look at how and why this man, Donald Sterling, billionaire
owner of the LA Clippers, got himself tape-recorded in the worst such case
of verbal self-destruction since Mitt Romney`s 47 percent debacle, or going
back further, to Richard Nixon.
Let`s try to see this case for what it is but also where it fits into the
history of race relations in this country, and more particularly, the world
of comments people make that get recorded and rip the scab from what is
increasingly, I think, a healthy attitude in this country, especially among
the young. And if possible tonight, we can chart where this particular
episode will take us.
Is Donald Sterling dead as an NBA owner? Is he really?
Let`s get to that one right now. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the all-time
scoring leader in NBA history. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of
Fame in 1995. Sam Amick covers the NBA for "USA Today."
Let`s listen to the audio recording that TMZ posted that they say is
Clippers owner Donald Sterling. It hasn`t been authenticated by NBC News,
but Sterling has not denied it`s him. A statement from the Clippers`
president says Sterling`s emphatic that what`s on the tape is not
consistent with his views.
But let`s listen to the tape.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People call you and say that I have black people on
my Instagram, and it bothers you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it bothers me a lot. If you want to broadcast
that you`re associating with black people -- how about your whole life,
every day, you could do whatever you want. You could sleep with them. You
could bring them in. You could do whatever you want. The little I ask you
is not to promote it on that (ph) and not to bring them to my games.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: "And not to bring them to my games." And here`s more from that
-- we`ll have more from that later on the tape, but here`s more of it now.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know that you have a whole team that`s black
that plays for you?
STERLING: Just -- do I know? I support them and give them food and
clothes and cars and houses! Who gives it to them? Does someone else give
it to them? Do I know that I have -- who makes the game? Do I make the
game, or do they make the game?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, it`s an honor to have you on, sir,
tonight. And I -- I really am not sure what you`re going to say. I`ve
read your piece. I`m open to everything tonight. What do we make of this?
Was this guy`s reputation somewhat less than sterling to begin with?
KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR, NBA HALL OF FAME PLAYER: It was a lot less than
sterling, Chris. You should look at the suit that was filed against him by
the federal government that alleged his discrimination against black and
Hispanic tenants, would-be tenants that wanted to rent some of his
properties. He didn`t want to rent to people with little children. He has
said things in deposition about the fact that black people smell bad and
create vermin in the places that they live.
He`s said some very despicable, ugly things about minorities. It has no
place in our country where we are supposed to be a place of equality and
MATTHEWS: Sam, what`s been the reporting on this fellow before last Friday
night, when this story broke, this tape got out?
SAM AMICK, "USA TODAY": Well, as Kareem knows, this is not a new thing
when it comes to this owner and his reputation. I think that`s the
frustration within the NBA community, is the idea that something should
have been done sooner.
We have a court record in the past. We have countless anecdotes from
players, coaches alike that Donald Sterling saw the world a certain way.
The NBA never had the ability, they say, to do something about it, and now
we see it unravel the way it has.
And his name was mud before, but never like this. And I think, more
importantly, the player community was not as aware of it, certainly, as
they are now. And now we`re going to see the ripple effects.
MATTHEWS: As you both mentioned there, LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling
does not come to this current controversy as a blank slate by any means.
He`s been party to lawsuits involving race before. As you said, in 2009,
Sterling paid nearly $3 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the Justice
Department, the U.S. Justice Department, accusing him of systematically
driving African-Americans and Latinos out of apartment buildings he owned.
At that time, it was the largest housing discrimination lawsuit ever.
In a separate 2009 case, Sterling was sued by 19 tenants who said Sterling
employees refused repairs to black tenants and frequently threatened to
evict them. Sterling paid an undisclosed sum to settle that one.
And Sterling was sued by former Clippers general manager, the great Elgin
Baylor, whose original suit for wrongful termination based on age and race
accused Sterling of envisioning a Southern plantation-type structure for
the Clippers themselves. Well, the race allegation was dropped for a jury,
and a jury ruled in favor of Sterling. But Baylor`s attorney will be our
next guest tonight in the following segment.
Kareem, you know, I -- everybody`s going to want to hear what you have to
say about race and the history of the NBA, as its greatest player ever, by
-- certainly by the numbers. And I personally, as a Holy Cross grad,
remember way back when you gave that first interview to "Sports
Illustrated" about your treatment at Power Memorial by Jack Donohue. It
blew our socks off when we read that, about how he`d used the N-word on you
at a halftime to try to rouse you up.
I mean, you`ve been through all of this. Put it in perspective.
ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, I think that the NBA has done a great job to in trying
to effect change. I played for the Milwaukee Bucks as a rookie, and they
were the first NBA team to hire a black GM, someone in the front office
that had power and responsibilities.
And throughout my whole career at the NBA, they kept opening up doors.
That`s been the history of the NBA. And sports in general has been a great
opportunity for people to step forward and make change. I think of Jesse
Owens at the 1936 Olympics. I think of Jackie Robinson integrating
And now we have this ugly, horrible things that Mr. Sterling has said about
any number of minority people. There`s no place for this in the NBA. We
do believe in equality and equal opportunity, and we approved it. And I
think that if the NBA deals with this in very quick and forthright manner,
they will continue to have some credibility.
MATTHEWS: How do you see him as a guy he obviously associates himself with
employees or heroes of his team -- they make him his money -- he`s got a
girlfriend, I guess you`d call her, who`s a minority. And yet he doesn`t
want -- in this weird recording, he doesn`t want her publicly seen with
these fellows like Magic.
And -- how do you see this -- it`s sort of a strange variant on race. What
would you call it? Is it patronizing? Is it plantation --
ABDUL-JABBAR: Chris, it`s the --
ABDUL-JABBAR: It`s the plantation model, Chris. You have -- in the
plantations, you had men from Africa making money for cotton growers. You
had women from Africa being sexually exploited by cotton growers. And the
whole time, the cotton growers looked down on these people with contempt as
And I think that Mr. Sterling has really adopted that as his methodology.
That`s how he treats the people around him. And it`s so unfortunate. We
have to take several steps away from this guy.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask Sam about this. From a sports writer`s perspective,
you know, we see the NBA, the best stars for years now have been African-
Americans, with a few exceptions from, like, Eastern Europe, you know?
It`s really been a domination in terms of talent. It`s one of the true
meritocracies on the planet, where the best players get to play. There`s -
- you know what I mean?
So how do we -- how do we put this in that context of what, as Kareem just
said, is an admirable effort over time to advance opportunities to people
MATTHEWS: -- in the offices, not just on the floor.
AMICK: Yes, and I think that Kareem is correct, that the NBA has been
incredibly, you know, progressive. They have gone in the right direction.
They`re an international league. This is the only thing, this owner,
holding them back at this point in time.
I can tell you from my own perspective covering that team a pretty, you
know, healthy amount, you see Donald Sterling talking to players like Jamal
Crawford. I remember one time, Jamal scored 30 points, Donald came up to
him -- and I never liked the way he looked at him. He told him at the
time, I want to give you a lifetime contract. You`re incredible. You`re
amazing. So he would admire their talents, but clearly look at them in a
different way. They served a purpose for him, and then once you got off
the court, things were different.
MATTHEWS: So Kareem, let me ask you about when you first started. I
mentioned the Jack Donohue thing and the way that coaches play players and
the way they yell during the game and what they say during halftime and --
has there been any development there? Has it basically been good from the
beginning? I mean, how would you describe it in the NBA, for example?
ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, in the NBA, I don`t see where, you know, people come
out and just do blatantly racist, offensive things to each other. The
incident that you mention with Coach Donohue -- he got angry at me for
being lazy and he lost his temper. He was -- he definitely wasn`t a
racist, you know? He lost his temper, and said something he shouldn`t have
said. It was a momentary slip.
But this thing with Mr. Sterling has gone on for decades. It`s horrible.
And he treats people badly just as -- it seems, on general principle.
There was a coach here, Kim Hughes -- he got cancer. He needed surgery.
Mr. Sterling would not cover him on the team policy. He had to borrow
money. I think three of the players covered the coach`s cost for his
cancer surgery. And if it were not for that, he would have been hung out
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, Sam, he`s not giving capitalism a good name.
Let me just put it that way, all right? This guy sounds like an all-around
jerk, and it isn`t just an attitude, a tribal attitude about being white
against black. It sounds like he`s not a very good human being based upon
the way he`s treated his tenants, the way he`s sort of thrown them out of
the building, according to this lawsuit that he lost, the way he`s treated
the gentleman you just mentioned, Kareem.
Sam, what -- has this guy got a baseball card on him that we all should
have known about before Friday night, or a basketball card on him?
AMICK: Yes, no question. Again, that`s the -- I think -- only, I think
it`s the only black eye on David Stern`s tenure. The timing is
unfortunate. David retires a few months ago. Adam Silver comes three
months into the job. We just celebrated everything that David accomplished
in the NBA, and the list of accomplishments is tremendous. This is the
only black eye because we have known this for a long time.
MATTHEWS: OK, how -- who wins this fight, Sterling or Silver?
AMICK: I think -- I think Adam needs help.
ABDUL-JABBAR: I think Sterling --
AMICK: Adam needs help from the owners.
ABDUL-JABBAR: I think it`s going to be very tough to discipline him
because he owns the team. And you know how the Supreme Court feels about
that. So his ownership is ironclad. But they have to figure out some way
to discipline him and let the world know that we`re not going to tolerate
this and we`re going to do everything we can to represent America the way
America should be represented.
MATTHEWS: Well, apparently, you don`t have much confidence in not having
another Citizens United decision here from the Supreme Court.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the highest scorer in
the history of the NBA, and a great guy to have on the show. Thank you so
much for coming on. And Sam Amick, thank you for joining us.
ABDUL-JABBAR: Nice talking with you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, a former NBA --
AMICK: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: -- All-Star and politician who`s been -- seen the NBA grow
from an also-ran league back in the `60s to what it is today and knows
firsthand what African-American players have faced in the league that grew
increasingly dominated, of course, by black athletes.
Also, if there is a silver lining, it`s that the unanimously -- it`s in the
unanimously negative reaction to Sterling`s comments that made it clear
that this kind of behavior -- and you got to think of it this way -- is no
longer tolerable in America.
And a new report says only 19 percent of what Tea Party groups have spent
this cycle on candidates actually goes to candidates. We`ll see this
anyway. The rest of it goes to Tea Party members and their families.
They`re making out pretty well with consulting fees. In fact, one of the
activists in this so-called populist movement is making $450,000 a year.
That`s $50,000 a year more than the president they don`t like. That`s
Finally, before we knew about Sterling, Ronald (sic) Sterling, there was,
of course, Cliven Bundy and the welfare -- that`s what he`s being called --
the welfare cattle rancher. Well, he`s red meat for Bill Maher, and we`re
going to show you that part in the "Sideshow."
This is, of course, HARDBALL -- I`m back -- the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: U.S. Congressman Michael Grimm has been indicted on fraud
charges, and that may create an opening for Democrats in the House of
Representatives. The New York Republican pleaded not guilty to a 20-count
federal indictment that goes back to a restaurant he owned before he was
elected to Congress. He`s been released on a $400,000 bond.
So far, House Republican leadership has said nothing about Grimm`s
indictment, but Democrats will make an issue out of it as they look to win
this seat, which includes Staten Island, New York, and a small part of
If you want to find more headlines and videos from HARDBALL, it`s simple.
Go to our Web site every day of the week at HARDBALL.MSNBC.com.
And I`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. More now on those explosive comments
attributed to NBA owner Donald Sterling. Well, some of the game`s most
iconic African-American players are going public with their shock and
outrage at what they`ve heard.
Michael Jordan, the league`s only African-American majority owner, put out
this statement. "As an owner, I`m obviously disgusted that a fellow owner
-- team owner could hold such sickening and offensive views. As a former
player, I`m completely outraged."
Magic Johnson, the legendary Los Angeles Laker, is pressing Sterling to
give up ownership of the team. And Yahoo Sports is reporting now that
Johnson is interested in buying the franchise himself. Here`s Johnson on
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAGIC JOHNSON, NBA HALL OF FAME PLAYER: He shouldn`t own a team anymore.
And he should stand up and say, I don`t want to own a team anymore,
especially when you have African-Americans renting his apartments, coming
to the games, and playing for him and coaching for him. This is bad for
everybody. It`s bad for America. And so I`m really upset about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, as I mentioned earlier in the show, Sterling has a long
legal history of dealing with allegations relating to bigotry and racism.
They include a wrongful termination lawsuit brought by former Clippers
general manager Elgin Baylor, a great player himself, who in 2009 alleged
that Sterling had a, quote, "vision of a Southern plantation-type
structure" for the team. A jury ruled in Sterling`s favor in 2011, but as
we`ve now seen, the legal battles facing Sterling could be far from over.
Joining us right now to look at how we got here and where this is likely to
go, I`m joined by Dave Bing, an NBA Hall of Famer who played in the `60s
and `70s and has been honored as one of the 50 greatest players in NBA
history. He was also mayor of Detroit twice elected. And Carl Douglas,
the lawyer who represented the great Elgin Baylor in that wrongful
termination case against Donald Sterling.
Mayor Bing, thank you so much for joining us. I don`t know if you heard
the earlier conversation with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but I wanted to get your
sense of your personal experience with race in the NBA.
DAVE BING, NBA HALL OF FAME PLAYER: Well, as far as players are concerned,
we didn`t have many issues because I think the players got along. We
respected each other. I mean, it was a family. We never got to know the
owners very well. And now that the league has expanded to the extent that
it has and the game has become such a big business, players and owners get
to know each other and interact.
But I -- you know, the racism that I saw in the league was provided by
fans, not so much general managers or people within the administration, and
surely not the owners. But I think this is a blessing in disguise, because
this guy has been hiding for a long time with the kind of feelings that he
has about African-Americans and maybe other minorities.
And now that it`s out, I think other people will have to stand up and make
sure that this is not going to happen again. The owners and the league has
to take a strong stand against him.
MATTHEWS: Well, two points.
You know, one of the weird things about the NBA is when you watch the
championship game, usually the seventh game of the final series, the
players stand back, and some little owner comes out and receives the award.
I have always thought that was unlike any other sport, where the owner gets
to get the Academy Award, when he`s not been in the field. Is that weird?
Does that seem weird, those moments when the owner gets to be the star?
BING: I guess, because he`s signing the paychecks, he can kind of do what
he wants to do.
BING: And the owners, and the leadership are -- you know, they work very
close together. It is a players league.
And I`m so proud of the players that are standing up and coming out against
this, because I think that there`s unanimity across the board across for
all of us. We are really disgusted with this. And now we have got to make
some changes that need to be made.
MATTHEWS: You made a point -- a point about the fans. And of course we
all grew -- I grew new this country. I`m about your age, I think. And I
remember the catcalls, and we all know the crap that goes on when people
have had a few drinks at a game.
But wasn`t it kind of a great thing that, when the league became heavily
African-American in the last 20 or 30 years, that the fan base grew? Is
there any evidence that people were turned off by the fact of the
successful efforts by so many African-American players, that they just
dominate the positions?
BING: No, I don`t think fans were turned off at all. I think people who
pay money, they want to entertained.
BING: And I think the black players have been superior in their
And because of that, a lot of guys have become stars over the years in the
NBA. But I don`t think it was detrimental to the fan base at all. The fan
base grew. People appreciated the skills and the talents that the African-
Americans brought to the league. And the league benefited from that.
So now that we have one of our owners saying and doing and acting the way
he is, it`s really -- I think it`s up to the other owners and the
leadership within the league itself to take a stand and make a position.
MATTHEWS: Let me bring in Carl Douglas. He`s a lawyer, an attorney who
has been representing the great Elgin Baylor. We all loved Elgin Baylor
growing up. And he got involved as an official -- actually as a management
guy in his tussle with this guy Sterling.
What did you learn about Sterling the person when you were in this legal
CARL DOUGLAS, ATTORNEY FOR ELGIN BAYLOR: I learned that he was defiant and
angry in his denials of racism.
I had a chance, Chris, over the course of five or six different sessions, a
total of more than 20 different hours to ask this man questions, to sit
across a table from him while he was under oath, peppering him with
questions about allegations of racism that date back into the early `80s.
So I was not surprised one bit when I heard those disgusting tapes.
MATTHEWS: Well, did you ever hear any lingo like that, language like that,
that was plantation, I`m the owner, the old white guy, and I have got an
African-American or a minority girlfriend, I have got African-Americans
working for me, but I`m the big boss in the big house, and that`s my
attitude about the slaves or whatever he was thinking they were?
Did you actually hear words like this tape in those conversations or not?
DOUGLAS: I heard allegations from my client, Elgin Baylor, that he spoke
of always wanting a process where a Southern white coach would be coaching
these young black players.
I remember allegations early in the `80s, when he spoke to a first-round
draft pick and said, that`s an awful lot of money far poor black kid. You
better take that money.
I remember hearing allegations he would bring women into the locker rooms
and admire the black bodies of his athletes as they came from the shower.
So these allegations against him were all too reminiscent of the things
that I had heard that go back 20, even 30 years or more.
MATTHEWS: Sounds like he`s got a whole plethora of problems, the way you
describe it, Carl.
Do you think -- more than I thought when you started talking there. What
do you make of the legal situation he`s in now? Then I want to go back to
Mayor Bing, Dave Bing.
Do you think he can get cashiered out of this league by any legal means at
this point? Or is it all going to be market forces at this point? Harold
Ford, the former congressman, who was commentating this morning on "MORNING
JOE," said it`s going to have to be market forces, these brand names that
are going to be pulling their sponsorship of the team. It`s going to have
to be that kind of thing that jars this thing loose.
DOUGLAS: Well, Chris, I have come to learn that the only color that Donald
Sterling cares about is the color green.
So all fair-minded Clipper fans who are outraged like I am have to speak
with their pocketbooks. I love the coach, Doc Rivers. Chris Paul is one
of my most favorite basketball players of all time. But I will join and
stand with Magic Johnson and never again step foot into the Staples Center
so long as Donald Sterling is an owner.
And what has to happen really? There are only 29 people on this Earth that
will be able to influence Donald Sterling. He`s a billionaire. A fine of
$1 million or even $10 million would be pittance to him.
DOUGLAS: But, rather, the 29 owners getting together collectively would be
able to influence him into giving up his franchise and then walking away a
very rich man.
MATTHEWS: Let me get back to David Bing.
Sir, thank you for being on, especially you.
And I wanted to ask you about, what do you think will happen here? Do you
think there`s any chances that the forces of humanity will prevail here?
Or is it going to be dollars and the sponsors? Maybe they will be working
BING: Well, I think they need to work together, no doubt in my mind about
But I think, once again, the other owners in the league are really going to
have to step up, because it`s a very small community of owners of
professional sports. And I don`t think any of them want to be associated
with somebody who thinks like this, who feels like that.
But it`s going to be market-driven, absolutely, no doubt about it. And so
a fine -- I agree with Carl. A fine, for whatever the amount is going to
be, is going to be a pittance, because here`s a guy who`s a billionaire or
I think I would not want to play for him. And I`m sure a lot of players on
that team now don`t want to play for him. But it`s unfortunate, because
there`s just a small window of opportunity from players on this team. They
are a team that could compete for this championship, had it not been of
this. And I`m not sure they`re going to get over this. And it`s just too
bad for the players on the team.
MATTHEWS: Yes. They still have to face these games, though.
Anyway, thank you, Dave Bing. It`s great having you on.
And Carl Douglas, good luck with your work.
More on Donald Sterling ahead, including a false claim about the owner`s
politics from Rush Limbaugh. Do you believe he made a mistake again?
Anyway, this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER")
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sterling was upset after she posted an Instagram photo
with her with Magic Johnson.
JOHN OLIVER, HOST, "LAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER": Wow. That is
genuinely shocking. An 80-year-old man knows about Instagram.
OLIVER: But, look, I`m sure he will win his way back into everyone`s good
graces. Who can stay mad at that racist face?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Time for the "Sideshow."
That was of course John Oliver talking about Donald Sterling on the debut
of his HBO show, "Last Week Tonight."
But even as Sterling faces near unanimous condemnation for his racist
comments, Rush Limbaugh has found a way to politicize this uproar.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW")
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The guy is a big Democrat. The only
reason he`s in trouble right now is he did not give enough money to Obama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Great research, Rushbo.
There`s little reason to get excited about Sterling`s political affiliate,
but since Rush Limbaugh chose to do so, he ought to get it right.
Today, "Mother Jones" uncovered that Sterling is, in fact, a registered
Of course, Sterling`s racist rant is the second of this kind to receive
national attention in less than a week, coming on the heels of similar
remarks from Nevada rancher and former conservative poster boy Cliven
But if conservatives would rather forget their crusade for Bundy, it`s
unlikely that Bill Maher is going to let them. Here`s what Maher said
about Bundy and his party, the Republicans, on "Real Time."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL MAHER, HOST, "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER": He said they were better
off perhaps as slaves picking cotton.
So, all the conservatives who for the last few weeks who have been
lionizing this guy had to like backtrack on this. They said they no longer
consider him a patriot hero. They consider him the front-runner for the
Republican nomination in 2016.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Up next: the one good thing that`s come out of the Donald
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
PAGE HOPKINS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Page Hopkins. Here`s what`s
Tornado activity was confirmed earlier tonight in Tupelo, Missouri, where
cars were overturned and homes were damaged. There are no reports of
fatalities. In Arkansas, where 14 people were killed in a weekend tornado,
Governor Mike Beebe received a phone call from President Obama offering
condolences. One person was killed in Oklahoma, and another died in Iowa.
And tonight tens of millions of people live in areas that could be
impacted. The wicked weather is expected to last for the next few days.
We will continue to follow it. And now we`re going to take you back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, the condemnation of Donald Sterling came quickly from all sectors of
society, including the sports business and political worlds. Even the
president weighed in when asked.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: when ignorant folks want to
advertise their ignorance, you don`t really have to do anything. You just
let them talk, and that`s what happened here.
I think we just have to be clear and steady in denouncing it, teaching our
children differently, but also remaining hopeful that part of why some
statements like this stand out so much is because there have been a shift -
- there has been a shift in how we view ourselves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, is the president right in his hopefulness?
Both Republicans and Democrats expressed outrage, including Education
Secretary Arne Duncan and Senator Claire McCaskill and Bob Corker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARNE DUNCAN, U.S. EDUCATION SECRETARY: My specific answer is, again,
innocent until proven guilty, but if it`s true, I don`t think he has a
place or a role in the NBA. And, folks, the owners are going to have to
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: In our country, we have a First
Amendment, which allows ignorant racists to say whatever they want to say.
However, I hope the NBA takes swift action against this man. I can`t
imagine how it must feel to be one of the African-Americans playing on his
team, how they must feel today, knowing that the owner of the team is
obviously such an ignorant racist.
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: It`s just outrageous in 2014 that comments
like these are being made. So I thought the president`s response was
And I don`t know what else to add to it. It`s beyond belief.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, it followed a similar to last week, when tapes of the
Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy making racist comments about African-Americans
came out. Many of his former backers on the right quickly and publicly
And as you heard, the president referred to a shift in our views that made
these comments stand out. Well, others have noted optimistically that it`s
no longer acceptable for mainstream politicians and leaders to write off
racist talk as a vestige of a different generation or a different culture,
as they once might have.
And yet these past few weeks have also starkly shown that racism remains
ever-present in our society and it comes from very different corner.s
James Peterson, by the way, is the director of Africana studies at Lehigh.
And Perry Bacon is a political editor at TheGrio. Both are MSNBC
contributors, and thereby entitled to a difference of opinion.
And I want to see what those opinions are. I have been learning about
Professor Peterson, is this the strange, odd occurrence, or is this the
norm, the commentaries coming in these tape recordings attributed to Donald
JAMES PETERSON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: This is -- for me, Chris, this is more
the norm. It`s still infuriating to kind of hear this.
But when we put this into the context of the SCOTUS decision last week
signaling that they don`t believe that racism really exists in terms of
hiring and admission practices, you put it in the context of Cliven Bundy
and his rants about cotton-picking slaves, and then you think about the
history of Donald Sterling, a guy who is responsible for the largest
settlement in any kind of housing discrimination case against blacks and
Latinos in the Los Angeles area. This guy is essentially a slum lord. And
all the sort of bad behavior antics we`ve been hearing about in the media
with this man, it seems clear to me that we`ve got to focus on the
institutional racism and focus less on the sensational things. But these
things are normal unfortunately, Chris.
I don`t think we`ve passed some point in our history where it`s not
important to address these things head on and to think about the systematic
nature of these things more than the sensationalistic sort of media
coverage of it.
MATTHEWS: There are ethnic differences, tribalism if you want to call it.
It`s an extreme form all around the world.
So, let`s look at this thing relatively. How are we doing in the last 30,
40 years that you`ve been watching and observing? Has this country
improved or hasn`t it? I`m trying to get a reading out of you.
PETERSON: Of course, Chris, of course, there`s been some improvement.
There has been some improvement. But unfortunately, we are too much -- we
emphasize too much of the symbolic nature of some of these improvements
instead of the institutional policy or exchange here.
At the end of the day, we look across all the institutions in America,
criminal justice, hiring and firing, lending practices, housing
discrimination, education. All of these things have racial gaps. So we
have to look at the systems.
And, listen, we can pat ourselves on the backs for the progress, Chris, but
we have to keep it moving because there`s still a lot more work to be done.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Perry Bacon. Do you agree with what you just
PERRY BACON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I do, Chris.
MATTHEWS: I thought you would disagree.
BACON: No, I agree with most of what James just said. Institutional
racism is a huge problem in the country. I think we should work on that,
At the same time, I do think that universal condemnation of Sterling and
Bundy received is important itself. I don`t think it`s something we need
to pass over. The face that not just Al Sharpton, but the president, Bill
Simmons, Ernie Johnson who runs the basketball programs on TNT. The
condemnation he received is significant for Sterling and for Bundy.
And it tells us that we`re writing comments like that out of public life.
And that is really important in and of itself. Like a few years ago, you
could imagine, there was an owner named Marge Schott who --
MATTHEWS: I remember her.
BACON: And she said all these comments for years (INAUDIBLE) owner. Now,
you see this possibility strongly that Donald Sterling will not own an NBA
team next year. I think its` pretty strongly likely he will own a team
very soon. The condemnation has been universal, strong, unequivocal and
MATTHEWS: Do you think, Perry, I want to start with you and now go to
James in a second. Same question, do you think the conversation whites
have among themselves when there aren`t any blacks present has changed
dramatically in the last 20 or 30 years? Or it`s the same. I want to know
what you think.
BACON: I mean, the sure answer is we don`t know --
MATTHEWS: What`s your sense?
BACON: My sense is it`s changed a lot. It`s not where I want it to be. I
agree with James. I think there are probably more people saying these
kinds of things. Like Donald Sterling said than I would like them to.
There`s all kinds of studies suggesting that there`s more racism in private
than in public in America. And you see that in all kinds of studies about
how it`s hard to be hired if your name is a certain thing.
MATTHEWS: Let me compare that with what James thinks. Do you think
private conversations among whites has changed in the last 30 years
PETERSON: I don`t care what whites think.
MATTHEWS: I`m asking you a question. I want to know answer, because
you`re making a commentary here. I just want the comment.
PETERSON: I`m making commentary. My commentary is I don`t care what white
people say privately. What I care about systematic institutional racism.
I still want the players for the Clippers to step up. I think it`s an
opportunity for them to boycott this home game coming up tomorrow. I think
there`s more to do to draw attention to this. But I`m only concerned about
systemic, institutional racism. Personal or interpersonal racism, for me,
personally, Chris, doesn`t matter as much.
MATTHEWS: We`re talking about the Sterling case, which is about words
spoken on a tape recorder.
MATTHEWS: Do you think they`re typical or not?
PETERSON: Listen, for me, for Sterling, it`s more important that he
discriminated against hundreds if not thousands of black and Latino people
in the housing communities of Los Angeles than it is about what he said
about Magic Johnson. That`s my own personal belief about this situation.
BACON: Chris, I would say private comments are important. We know that
private views about gay rights have changed. The private conversations
people are having have changed. And it affects the public life as well.
We have huge increases in like interracial marriage, for instance, that`s a
private decision that will affect public policy later on.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, we have different views here.
Thank you so much, James Peterson. Maybe different perspectives. I think
MATTHEWS: Perry Bacon, thank you for joining. Both gentlemen.
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, tea for who? A new report finds it`s not the
candidates who are getting the lion`s share of the Tea Party contributions.
It`s Tea Party activists and their families who are raking in a lot of this
And that`s ahead when HARDBALL continues.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
A new analysis by "The Washington Post" found that the Tea Party which
exploded on to the national scene as an angry reaction to wasteful spending
in Washington is bringing in millions from supporters, but spending only a
small fraction on candidates that they`re working to elect.
Where is the money going? Well, much of it to expensive political
consultants and lavish incomes for the Tea Party leaders themselves. "The
Washington Post`s" Matea Gold wrote of one Tea Party leader, Tea Party
Patriots president and chairwoman Jenny Beth Martin, quote, "her twin
salaries put her on track to make more than $450,000 this year, a dramatic
change in lifestyle for the Tea Party activist who filed for bankruptcy in
2008. And then clean the homes to bring in extra money."
Well, The Washington Post`s" Matea Gold is with us now, along with Howard
Fineman, who`s the editorial director of "The Huffington Post" and, of
course, a prized MSNBC political analyst.
Matea, talk about this because it doesn`t sound like they`ve replicated the
very charges that made against Washington -- too much gets wasted, too
little gets done.
MATEA GOLD, THE WASHINGTON POST: Right. Well, that`s why I think these
numbers are so staggering and are now, since we found, of the six major Tea
Party PACs that said they`re going to engage in this year`s midterm
election, they`ve only spent a fraction of the $37 million that they`ve put
out so far actually on helping the candidates, either through ads or giving
directly to the candidates` campaigns. Instead, about half the money has
gone to fundraising, just to bring more money in, a lot to Washington area
fundraising, direct mail firms.
And there`s hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees with to the leaders of
these groups for consulting fees.
So, Jenny Beth Martin, as you noted, is paying herself $15,000 a month for
strategic consulting for the PAC.
MATTHEWS: And she`s making more than Obama. Which is quite ironic, I
would say, given their target is Obama.
Howard, you know, this reminds me of what we used to do with big fund-
raising operations, even some name brands when you find out later the money
never got to the ultimate recipient, the person who`s in need, but to the
administration itself of the organization.
HOWARD FINEMAN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Well, Chris, this is almost a parody
in that as you pointed out the Tea Party grassroots people, the real ones
from a few years ago that were lit on fire by Obamacare and so forth back
in 2010, those people railed against the consultants and the party power
structure in Washington and the K Street Republicans and all that.
Here they are, as soon as they have a chance, imitating the very people
they were attacking. And the practical effects of it are real. Kentucky,
the state I`m following closely because I used to be a reporter there,
there`s a Tea Party candidate in the primary, Republican primary on May
20th. Matt Bevin, he`s got a lot of problems politically.
But one of his problems is he doesn`t have enough money. He`s spending
some of his own money but he`s not getting the Tea Party support that he
was promised, including by the organizations that Matea wrote about and
he`s probably going to get hammered on May 20th in that primary.
MATTHEWS: Matea, what percentage is actually going to the candidates of
the money they collect, these Tea Party groups, roughly?
GOLD: Well, it depends on the group. Three of the best-known groups of
the Tea Party Patriots, Tea Party Express and the Madison Project which
very prominently endorsed candidates has spent 5 percent or less of their
funds actually directly helping those candidates. And I spoke to a lot of
donors who were kind of bewildered by this. I mean, they`re giving money,
writing out small donations, thinking they`re helping these Tea Party
MATTHEWS: Well, will they be shocked? If they read the paper, it will go
viral, your piece, they`re going to realize the money went to
administrative expenses, consultancies and sometimes the top leaders
themselves. Is this going to appall them or are they going to say, well,
this is what I thought was happening, I know the money can all go to the
candidates? Or what do you think the reaction will be if you`ve gotten any
so far to your piece, to your reporting?
GOLD: Yes, sure. No, we`ve gotten a lot. A lot of folks feel very
betrayed. A lot of folks actually said they have suspected something was
wrong and some people actually were pretty entrepreneurial and had been
looking at SEC reports themselves and so, I`ve heard from some (INAUDIBLE)
that said they`re just giving their money directly to the candidate
Other donors I spoke to just kind of just don`t really want to believe the
worst. I mean, leaders like Jenny Beth Martin are incredibly prominent in
the movement. There was a lot of a sense of, well, I have faith in her and
I`m sure she knows what she`s doing.
I think there`s a vigorous debate going on right now among folks who
identify with the Tea Party movement about the best use of their resources.
MATTHEWS: Howard, will this be a stink?
FINEMAN: Oh, I think so, because I think after the primary season here,
you`ve got several Republican Tea Party challengers in these senatorial
primaries and elsewhere. They`re going to look around after they get blown
out and say what the heck happened? Kentucky is a good example.
What I put this down to, Chris, you can have a genuine grassroots movement
or you can have big party machinery. You can`t imitate and create a sort
of fake grassroots movement. And that`s the way it feels right now.
MATTHEWS: Hey, thank you, Matea Gold, for that great piece.
GOLD: My pleasure.
MATTHEWS: I hope it does cost a stink.
Howard Fineman, thank you as always, sir.
FINEMAN: Of course.
MATTHEWS: When we return, let me finish with what I learned on my 10-day
trip to China.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with my trip to China.
Here in New York what we proudly call the Big Apple there are 8 million
people. In China, there are eight cities as big as New York. Guangzhou is
a city I never heard of has 13 million, Beijing, the capital, 18 million,
Shanghai, 23 million.
The country has 20 cities as big as Los Angeles, 20. Nearly 50 as large as
my hometown of Philadelphia.
Kathleen and I spent time in the resort town of Hangzhou (ph), China`s
version of Lake George up in New York. Even it had 6.5 million people.
These cities are not what you think, however. Yes, there`s a lot of drab
buildings and entangled congested highways but even Beijing has its old
lakeside neighborhoods, and Shanghai is like a grander Chicago, an
architect`s delight. I say that as one who loves Chicago. It`s got a
skyline that`s gone up in just four years. Five miles are still there of
the old French part of town, block after block where you`d think you were
somewhere in France itself.
And guess what? The Chinese love it all. In all the big cities, you see
giant billboards for designer products from Europe. They`re look is
elegantly continental as the show piece ads here in midtown New York. I
get the idea that the Chinese consumer likes their hamburgers from
McDonald`s, their chicken and French fries from KFC, their java from
Starbucks, but their notions of style are pure European and continental,
just like us.
There`s a lot of confidence in their country booming over there. I can see
why. The construction doesn`t even stop on weekends.
If you figure we reach full size on age 18, I`d say China is about 5 years
old and growing. It`s nowhere near where it`s going to end up and that`s
not many years off from now.
A couple of things surprised me. It`s called a communist country but
there`s nothing like the universal safety net like we have for seniors in
America. No Social Security, no medication, just whatever a person`s home
village provides. It`s very catch as catch can.
There was a sunny serenity however in the parts I visited. Nothing like
the grimness I saw behind the old Iron Curtain in Europe in the months
before the Berlin wall came down.
But it`s not a free country, obviously. There are no civil rights. The
government does what it wishes, people put up with it.
But one thing we have to know, the government and the people agree on one
issue, China itself. They want China to have all of China. All of what
they see is historically China`s.
This is something we`ll have to deal with and deal smartly with whom we do.
It`s not just the government of the People`s Republic who are sensitive on
this issue of national territory, it`s the people of China themselves.
The one reaction I experienced in my 10 days in today`s China: respect. I
had profound respect for what this country has done with itself in such an
incredibly short time. It`s only just begun.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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