Chris Hayes · Ferguson Curfew

Why MSNBC’s Chris Hayes almost got maced in Ferguson

Photo: Scott Olson


Hayes: On Sunday night, police officers in Ferguson threatened to mace MSNBC’s Chris Hayes. “Media do not pass us,” you can hear them saying on the video. “You’re getting maced next time you pass us.”

I spoke with Hayes on Monday about his experiences in Ferguson.


Ezra Klein: I saw the video of the cop threatening to mace you. What happened before that clip?

Chris Hayes: Up the street there were a number of protestors. But a line had been drawn. We were behind a bunch of SWAT vehicles and cops in riot gear. I had inched up because I couldn’t see over them. To my left was a line of officers also marching up and now I was a bit ahead of them. And one of them just flipped out and began screaming at me.

I think it’s a fair assessment to say police don’t really enjoy doing this job while being recorded all the time. That press freedom is beautiful is not the prevailing sentiment. In their defense, they’re in a high-stress, highly adrenalized situation. It’s dark. They’re hearing over the police radio “shots fired!” I heard that over a police radio. It turned out to be fireworks. But they’re worried they might be in danger.


EK: You arrived, I think, last Thursday. How have things changed since you got there?

CH: I was there Thursday and Friday night. I left Saturday morning and came back last night. But one thing I think people should understand that’s being overlooked right now is the protests started within hours at the site of the shooting. These are low-rise apartment buildings with a street running through them on both sides. It’s almost like a college campus. Brown was shot on a Saturday in broad daylight. People were home. The outrage against police began almost immediately. The family was out there screaming. Rumors were flying. The County Police came in immediately for back-up. There were these pictures of them holding long guns.

Sunday night there are protests and someone burns down the QuikTrip. Then you get the heavily militarized police presence. Then Wednesday you have the tear gas, the arrests, all that. Wednesday I get into town and Jay Nixon announces he’s taking control away from the local police. Thursday night feels victorious. People feel like they won. There’s almost a Mardi Gras-like atmosphere. Then Friday night it’s a similar atmosphere but really late there’s some looting. We’re talking here about politicians from Missouri and St. Louis County who are just not going to let stores get looted on their watch. So Saturday night we see the curfew and there’s this high drama as it approaches. And then last night we don’t even get to the curfew. Police say there were molotov cocktails in one specific place. I spoke to three members of the clergy who say there was no such thing. I can’t tell you which side is right. One of MSNBC’s reporters did see a protestor with a gun.

There is a small group of people on each side who desire escalation. And they’re the most empowered in this scenario because it takes so little to bring it about. I was there when Governor Jay Nixon said people were intent on provocation and so they provoked and we escalated. So Nixon is saying he gave them exactly what they wanted. It creates these cycles where it’s hard to see how the night doesn’t end in violence.


EK: How different are the local politics from the national politics? Given the national press on this you would think that Nixon would want to do almost anything to avoid more violence, including being a bit more permissive with the protests. But it’s not obvious that that’s good politics locally.

CH: I can’t stress the importance of that enough. Even listening to the questions being asked by local press — and the local press here is doing a great job — you notice there’s a lot of law-and-order sentiment. Jay Nixon was an attorney general before he was governor. He was one of the DLC/Clinton-generation Democrats who got elected in relatively hostile territory by showing his bona fides on law-and-order. The politicians here are just not going to tolerate images of looting.

Tonight they’re getting rid of the curfew. There’s been this high drama to the clock striking midnight. So getting rid of the curfew is probably a smart idea in terms of removing the obvious flashpoint for a standoff.


EK: What would break the cycle here?

CH: People want to see the officer in question arrested and charged. That is what you hear across the board. Should charging decisions be made based on popular calls? No. They should be made based on facts on the ground. But there are three eyewitnesses with pretty similar stories. There’s the autopsy. If the situation was reversed and Michael Brown had shot and killed Darren Wilson, he would’ve been arrested and charged by now.

The St. Louis County prosecutor is a guy named Bob McCulloch. Among the members of the community I’ve talked to there is zero trust in him to prosecute this case. There were two police shootings where he did not prosecute. He called some of the victims of one of the shootings, who were drug dealers, bums. So there’s no community confidence. You have a state senator calling for a special prosecutor to be appointed. The county executive is also calling for that. But is there pressure on that from the governor or anyone else, I don’t know.

Affordable Care Act · Chris Hayes

Chris Hayes tries to deal with a boatload of Koch crazy


Screenshot of MSNBC interview, Chris Hayes and Jennifer Stefano
The look on Hayes face says it all. | attribution: Scott Wooledge

Daily Kos

Chris Hayes tried valiantly, Wednesday evening, to get Americans for Prosperity Pennsylvania State Director Jennifer Stefano to explain exactly why conservatives were so upset that people who have already started their Obamacare applications by March 31 will have two weeks to complete those applications, and just why more people getting health insurance was such a horrible thing. It didn’t work.

She started out by asserting that this extra two weeks would take health care away from her children. Really. Hayes tried to get an explanation about how that exactly would happen, and Stefano insisted that the extra two weeks would “not allow people to go back and change this law,” and that the law has “made seven million people lose their insurance.” How that affects her own children remains a mystery. But she doesn’t need actual facts. She just needed to yell loud enough and long enough to not allow Hayes to counter. Which she did.

“As a mother, I take real offense that women are being forced to have no choices to cover their children,” Stefano continued.”What are you talking about?” an incredulous Hayes responded, before arguing that much of the “heavy lifting” under the law would be accomplished by expansion of state Medicare [sic—Medicaid] programs, which have been frequently been opposed by conservatives. […]

“Do you believe in Medicaid expansion?” Hayes asked.

“I have a real problem, when you talk about raising the poverty level, that’s people making $94,000 a year,” she said. “They’re not poor. That is taking resources from the poor.”

“Not on the Medicaid expansion,” Hayes said, shaking his head.

“The expansion of Medicaid is a moral issue, not an economic one” Stefano charged.

“That’s a math trainwreck, that’s not the Medicaid expansion,” he said.

The “interview” ultimately ended with Stefano playing victim, charging Hayes with trying to shut her up, just like Harry Reid did with Julie Boonstra, never mind that Hayes was giving her a slot on his show to air her grievances. It wasn’t just a math trainwreck, it was a reality trainwreck. Just what the Koch brothers ordered. You can watch the whole load of crazy here.

The good news, though, is that isn’t how Hayes’ day ended. Congratulations, Chris and Kate, on the new addition to your family.

Watch the discussion as it aired on MSNBC on Wednesday…

Affordable Care Act · Chris Hayes

MSNBC Chris Hayes Explains Obamacare For Dummies Fox & Friends


With the opening of state health insurance mere days away, and an apocalyptic fight over de-funding Obamacare raging in Congress, attention to the Affordable Care Act is at an all-time high, while accurate information about it remains at an all-time low in certain quarters. On Friday night,All In with Chris Hayes host Chris Hayes held a brief For Dummies-style tutorial for Fox & FriendsSteve Doocy, and called out his rival for failing to do his job.

Hayes introduced the segment with a clip from his Thursday night interview with Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) in which the Congresswoman elicits priceless reactions of earnest dismay from Hayes with her rapid-fire delivery of Obamacare disinformation. Then, accompanied by a graphic of a For Dummies book entitled “Obamacare for Fox & Friends” (get it? They’re dummies!), proceeded to correct some of the show’s misimpressions about the law.

He played a clip of Steve Doocy complaining about a delay, until November, in the implementation of online small business health insurance exchanges, which Hayes patiently explained is not the end of the world, since the plans don’t go into effect until January 1. “That’s like complaining you haven’t gotten your hamburger yet from a restaurant that doesn’t open until next freaking week,” Hayes said.

The key point here, though, is that health insurance is complicated, and in critiquing F&F, Hayes generously allows that their confusion may be genuine. Being confused about health insurance doesn’t make you a dummy, it just makes you like most people. It’s an incredibly complex subject, and much more difficult to explain than complain about. It’s also incredibly important. That’s why the news media, in fulfilling its duty to inform the public, has a higher than normal responsibility to bring clarity to the issue.

As Hayes put it, “Laws are big and often complicated, and it is genuinely difficult to figure out the details. They’re confusing, and what might happen in the future is difficult to predict. But that’s what those of us in the news media are paid to do.”

If that’s the case, then precious few of them are earning that paycheck.

Here’s the clip, from All In with Chris Hayes: