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MSNBC’s Joy Reid And I Debate Last Night’s “Commander-in-Chief Forum”

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MSNBC’s Joy Ann Reid joined me this morning to discuss last night’s forum:




HH: I am so pleased to welcome onto the show now my NBC and MSNBC pal, Joy Reid. And like my college roommates, Marc Gearan and Dan Poneman, she is sadly a Democrat. She is a liberal, but I’ve gotten to really enjoy and become friends with Joy Reid, and I forgive the fact she’s just wrong on politics. She’s very fair to me when I’m on her show. Joy, good morning, it’s great to have you on, Joy in the morning on the radio.

JR: I love talking with you, Hugh. We have the most ironic friendship, I think, in media, so I love it.

HH: In broadcast. Now your new book, or your book, Fracture, is coming out in paperback very soon, Barack Obama, the Clintons and the Racial Divide. When does that become available in paperback, Joy?

JR: It’s out in paperback on September 27th, and there’s a new chapter that deals with the whole Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton phenomenon, so I’m very excited about it.

HH: When that comes out on the 27th, we will deal specifically with that. Let’s turn to last night. The New York Times this morning, our NBC colleague, Matt Lauer, getting criticism, the headline, “Matt Lauer Fields Storm of Criticism Over Clinton/Trump Forum.” Mostly, Hillary Clinton supporters are mad at Matt. I thought he did a fine job with both of them, and I thought especially Hallie Jackson did a great job with the audience. What did you think?

JR: Yeah, having Hallie, she did do a great job. She’s great. You know, it’s kind of confounding, Hugh, because I think one of the problems is that Matt had was time management. I mean, he spent a lot of time with Hillary Clinton on emails. And then he was sort of rushing her through, because he only had, he burned about ten minutes on that, and then he didn’t have enough time for her to really get through her answers, which were substantive. She was trying to talk about policy on the other questions, and he was interrupting her and rushing her through. So I think that was one source of criticism, and not just liberals, not just Hillary Clinton supporters, but you know, media critics like Michael Calderon, people like Brian Stelter, people, you know, across the board were unhappy with the performance. And then I think the second half of it was we learned that you really actually do need to fact check in real time, because when it came to Donald Trump, there was just sort of a lot of letting him ramble and not pushing back and not correcting some of the things he said that were clear misstatements, like that he always opposed the Iraq War. So it was a confounding sort of situation.

HH: It was a tough night for Hillary Clinton, but the toughest moment came up with, from the audience. And I mentioned Hallie Jackson did this remarkably difficult job, and you know this as a host, and you’re a superb host. You’ve sometimes got to get a guest to focus and execute. And getting audience members to do so is really hard. But Lt. John Lester delivered. Let’s listen to, I think, the toughest moment for the former Secretary of State last night, cut number 21:

HJ: Hi, Matt, I’m with Lt. John Lester, who will stand with me here.

HRC: Let me stand up here.

HJ: He began his military career by enlisting in the Air Force and then switched over to the Navy before he retired, where he few P-3 Orions in Desert Storm and in Desert Shield. He’s a Republican, and he has this question for you, Secretary Clinton.

HRC: Thank you.

JL: Secretary Clinton, thank you very much for coming tonight. As a Naval flight officer, I held the top secret sensitive compartmentalized information clearance. And that provided me access to materials and information highly sensitive to our war fighting capabilities. Had I communicated this information not following prescribed protocols, I would have been prosecuted and imprisoned. Secretary Clinton, how can you expect those such as myself who were and are trusted with America’s most sensitive information to have any confidence in your leadership as president when you clearly corrupted our national security?

HH: Now Joy Reid, the former Secretary of State fumbled that answer badly. How would you advise her to answer that from a former member of the military who held those clearances?

JR: Yeah, I mean, I would say, and you and I, we have done this probably three or four times together on Meet the Press. And it’s not surprising to me that members of the public, you know, have that impression of Hillary Clinton and this email situation given the amount of focus that the media has put on it for over a year, given the fact there was investigation of it. But I think, you know, she, and her answers are very complex and complicated, which is not a good place to be politically. I think what she should simply say is look, the reality is this was adjudicated by the FBI. They looked through it. And she didn’t share classified information. Look, I’ll give your audience just a very quick recitation that Slate went through all the emails so that we don’t have to. And the eight highest classified pieces of information, and seven of them were about CIA drone strikes, which were only classified because they’re not Pentagon drone strikes, right? And they were all things you could find in the New York Times. And the eighth one was an email with the president of Malawi. So I think she can simply say look, I totally respect your service, which is what she said. I respect your question, but I didn’t share classified secrets. That’s just not the case. And that’s all she can say, you know? I mean, she’s over and over and over again apologized for using the same kind of system Colin Powell did. I think the news that came out about his advice to her about avoiding FOIA was bigger news than anything I’ve seen out of these emails.

HH: This is what she said about the drones last night to Matt Lauer, cut number six:

ML: Some of the emails sent or received by you referring to our drone program, our covert drone program.

HRC: Yes, because of course, there were no discussions of any of the covert actions in process being determined about whether or not to go forward. But every part of our government had to deal with questions, and the Secretary of State’s office was first and foremost. So there are emails of talking about the drone program.

HH: She went on to say she was sometimes in Pakistan when this happened. I haven’t seen that fact-checked, but nevertheless, she’s talking about the drones, Joy. Is this going to linger?

JR: No, I mean, I think because it’s, well, first of all, when you’re doing that much explaining, and you’re not able to be specific, and she’s trying to be careful, you can’t really win on this topic, if you’re Hillary Clinton. I just think it’s a topic she cannot win on, that she can’t kind of unwind, because it’s just been sort of a blur. But the reality is seven, you know, emails that were talking about drone strikes, these were, again, only classified because they were CIA versus Pentagon drone strikes. I personally think we have maybe over-classification in the U.S. And I think you know, the folks from Reason Magazine and a lot of conservatives agree with me that we over-classify everything. If these had been Pentagon drone strikes, they wouldn’t have been covert or classified. So she wasn’t, you know, warning people these drone strikes are going to take place or giving away coordinates, like I think Geraldo Rivera did once on the air. You know, she was talking about seven drone strikes that were CIA that were in the New York Times and Washington Post. So I mean…

HH: All right, last Hillary question, then I’ll turn to Trump. She lost 13 Blackberries, 2 iPads and one laptop. John O’Neill, an FBI agent, had to leave. He was our number one al Qaeda hunter, because he lost one briefcase. How do you explain to your Democratic, or to your on the fence friends, Democrats don’t need to be explained. They forgive her. 13 Blackberries, 2 iPads, one laptop lost. How can we trust her?

JR: Well, having lost a lot of iPhones, I’m sort of not in a position to criticize somebody of that. Look, I think it sounds, like if you’re like most Americans, you change your phone every couple of years. You’ve got a lot of devices. I personally have four right now. I just, I don’t know, I think maybe I’m in that sort of tech world where that doesn’t sound like a lot of devices to me. So I think most Americans, at this point, if you are, if you believe that Hillary Clinton is untrustworthy, you just believe that, right? And I don’t think she can fix that. And I don’t think anyone’s on the fence anymore. I don’t believe there are undecided people anymore. I think there are people who may not want to admit who they’re voting for. You and I have talked about that. But I don’t think anybody’s undecided at this point.

HH: All right, let me be fair and get your licks in on Trump. I thought his worst moment, he’s got a substantial lead among the military and veterans, but he really blew the generals question last night. I took him to task with Brian Williams and General McCaffrey in the 11th Hour last night, because no one should challenge General Joe Dunford, the chairman’s chops or any of his staff. What did you make of Trump and the generals last night?

JR: Yeah, I thought it was one of many bizarre answers. You know, it sounded like what he was saying is that the generals that we have in place now who work under our current president are no good, and have to go. And I think a good follow up question from Matt would have been are you talking about a purge, you know, of our military leadership, because I’m with you. I mean, I grew up in, you know, the shadow of Lowry Air Force Base out in Colorado when I was there, and you know, my brother from Colorado, when you’re in a military town, my brother has two kids that he grew up with after my mom passed away, a family who took him and had half custody of him, sent two kids, one to West Point and one to the U.S. Air Force Academy. So you know, it’s a personal thing if he’s attacking the men and women who serve in the military. That just seems completely inappropriate for someone who wants to be commander-in-chief. He can’t say his 88 people who signed a letter for him, you know, are better military generals or better military minds than the hard-working people who are there. That was a terrible answer.

HH: It was his worst moment. On the other hand, I thought he handled the last, 45 seconds, Joy Reid, I thought he handled the Putin stuff very well. Beautiful. If he wants to compliment me, fine. It won’t have any impact on me. What did you think?

JR: Well, see, I actually thought that was his worst moment. I mean, I haven’t, you know, dissing the generals is terrible. If you want to be commander-in-chief, that is really bad. But I was actually frankly taken aback, and have been by this love for Vladimir Putin, and fighting his poll numbers. You know, Vladimir Putin is an authoritarian who had journalists killed. You know, I don’t think somebody who wants to be the president of the United States should be complimenting and reveling in the compliments of the Russian authoritarian president. That was disturbing for me, personally.

HH: Joy Reid, we see every Saturday and Sunday morning, and we see her on Meet the Press. She is my liberal pal. I’m working on her, America. I will bring her over to truth, justice and the Republican way eventually. Thank you, Joy.

End of interview.


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