Well, it’s just like how they operate in our electoral system. They
give a lot of money. They don’t have to specify their demands. The
politicians know what their agenda is, and they serve that agenda of the
Koch brothers. And the same thing goes with public television,
apparently. They made their contributions, and the programmers pay
attention, and they make their programming decisions based on that. It’s
really sad, but I think Carl is right, we just need to advocate for
more public moneys for public television.
Alex Wagner: Lawrence, if ineptitude was a crime, John Boehner would have a life sentence, right? What has happened? From what I've read, from the investigations in the L.A. Times and New York Times, this was a bunch of overwhelmed civil servants in an office in Cincinnati. They were getting 70,000 applications a year, and there were 200 of them. They were inundated. They were doing what the New York Times describes as triage to deal with this, and maybe their form of triage was bad, and they didn't think about the political optics, they didn't think of the ramifications, but at the end of the day, no one has proved any malice. There is no crime here.
Chris Hayes: We should be really clear here, Richard Nixon sat in the White House and literally ordered audits of political enemies, and that was a massive
abuse of power.
The run-up to the Iraq war showed that the New York Times has tremendous power to establish "truth" in the United States—and that when the Times wields that power irresponsibly, the results can be catastrophic.
It's healthy for democracy to keep a public watch on the work of elected officials, but we also need to be certain that what is reported is accurate. Read this from William Boardman, Reader Supported News:
“It’s a frightening scenario when a free press is actually a bought and
paid-for press and it can happen on both sides,” said Ellen Miller,
executive director of the Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan watchdog
McConnell campaign tapes highlight some of the tactics used by many campaigns to smear their opponents. The briefing on the tapes was a typical opposition research briefing for a candidate, and typical reactions within a campaign. In most cases this kind of campaign discussion leads to decisions about making public attacks against the opponent, or encouraging people not directly connected to the campaign to make such attacks. The typical tactic is to feed the information to some friendly publication who will carry it as a "news" item.
"The interesting thing is if you listen to the whole tape, you see Mitch McConnell doesn't participate that much. He's there listening, but at no time does he say, 'I don't want to do this, I don't want to go there, I don't want to go into her mental health history, I don't want to go into her religious views.'"