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Keith Olbermann, Countdown: Michael Moore calls for support of Occupy Wall Street protest, decries execution of Troy Davis

Michael Moore calls for support of Occupy Wall Street protest, decries execution of Troy Davis
Keith Olbermann & Michael Moore, September 22, 2011

Michael Moore, filmmaker, activist and author of “Here Comes Trouble,” calls on people all over the country to bring the Occupy Wall Street movement to their communities. Moore says, “The smart rich know they can only build the gate so high. And … history proves that people, when they’ve had enough, aren’t going to take it anymore. And much better to deal with it nonviolently now, through the political system, than what could possibly happen in the future, which nobody wants to see.” Later, Moore denounces the state of Georgia for executing Troy Davis. “Well over a hundred people who were on death row who we were going to execute we have then discovered they were falsely convicted and they were set free. They almost died.”

transcript after the fold

OLBERMANN: Now, as promised, joining me from Los Angeles where he is experiencing the joys of a book tour for his new offering “Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life,” activist, filmmaker and author Michael Moore. Good evening, my friend.

MICHAEL MOORE: Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN: I want to talk Occupy Wall Street with you, I want to talk about the Troy Davis execution with you firstm but, before that, let me — a little of the news of the day and of the week from Washington, relative to jobs and the Republicans and the economy.

Yesterday, it was the Republican leadership that wrote this four-person letter to Ben Bernanke, the Fed chair, basically threatened — ‘If you intervene in the economy, if you try another stimulus, we’ll get you.’ Apart from the, sort of,  naked threat in there, translate what that means in terms of where the Republicans stand on the economy and jobs creation and all of the rest.

MOORE: You know, I think my question to them would be — I’ve always started with the assumption that Republicans love this country —


MOORE: I don’t take the approach they take with us, where they call us a whole bunch of names and assume that — that — that we’re not proud to be Americans. But when they behave like this, when they say things like this — and this is a continuation of the threatening remarks that they made a month or so ago — it’s — at what point do people start to question whether or not they really are for what we’re all about?

I mean, it’s — it seems like a strange approach to take when so many people are out of work. How can they be against this? I mean, it just — I loved — I loved watching Obama today doing his version of ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.’ Standing there — standing there saying, ‘Mr. Boehner, rebuild this bridge.’

OLBERMANN: Don’t tear down this bridge. Exactly.

MOORE: It’s — I think it’s — again, the last few days, President Obama has finally come out swinging. And it — I, listen, historians later on will figure out why he decided to play the first three-quarters of the game and not try to score any real touchdowns. If he has decided, though, in the fourth quarter to win the game, I think we’re all for that.

We’ve seen — we saw what he said last week where he wasn’t going to take any guff about taxing the rich. The rich are going to get taxed, and that’s it. Two weeks — three weeks ago, his Justice Department decided to try to stop the merger between AT&T and T-Mobile. When was the last time you saw the Justice Department try to stop a corporate merger? He was going to go after 17 banks and their mortgage fraud. I mean, suddenly, he’s coming alive, and I want to see more of that, he needs more of that, and the people who are going to vote for him need to see that.

OLBERMANN: Do you think — with a little reflection and a little time — have you come to the same conclusion I have, about why that disconnect existed for the president for the first three quarters?  He thought he was the referee.

MOORE: Yeah. I think — either he thought he was the referee or he was the new kid in town and wanted everybody to like him, or maybe he was just trying to be a good Christian and holding out the olive branch. But after they whacked it out of his hands, like, 30 times or 40 times, maybe he finally kind of decided — you know, you don’t get anywhere by giving the bully what he wants. You have to stand up to the bully. Now we are seeing him stand up to the bully. I think this is a good thing.

OLBERMANN: You mentioned the Brent Spence Bridge and the optics today from Ohio and Kentucky. Speaker Boehner pushed back against stimulus money for infrastructure in Ohio. Minority Leader McConnell of Kentucky pushed back against infrastructure money in Kentucky and around the country. And they — and they spent today accusing Obama of playing politics with that bridge. That was delightful, wasn’t it?

MOORE: Yeah, that’s all they’ve done for the first three years of his term — is to block everything he has tried to do, even when he writes or proposes bills that has their language in the bill.


MOORE: They just decided — well, they’ve admitted the first night — the night of his inauguration — they all went out to dinner and they just said ‘You know, we’re going to pretend he doesn’t exist. And we’re just are not going to do anything for four years, we’ll wait him out and we’ll get rid of him. I hope they have a huge surprise coming here in the next year or so.

OLBERMANN: Not that Warren Buffett can’t look out for himself, but seriously — demand he release his tax returns as Jim DeMint did when he had already released them on national TV?  I mean — assuming it wasn’t designed simply to make Jim DeMint to look like a dork — what were they trying to achieve in that? Just to ruin anybody who stands up against them in any way?

MOORE: Keith, you’re wasting valuable air time trying to figure out how the brain of the current, the modern-day Republican works.


MOORE: These are people who — who — when asked: ‘Do you believe in science?’ — only one of the nine raised his hand. I was worried the next question was going to be, ‘Do you believe in math? Anybody here for mathematics?’ And the Republicans are like — ‘Maybe?’ No, these are — these are people that just, you know, they believe Adam and Eve rode on dinosaurs 6,000 years ago. How do have a logical conversation about that?

OLBERMANN: That’s what Bill Maher said on the show last week, on his show last week. He said — he said that 50 percent of the country doesn’t believe in reality. What are you going to do about that? Look, let me cheat  —

MOORE: Yeah, less than 50 percent, though. Less than 50 percent. I believe the majority do believe in reality, and that’s why they don’t understand — as crazy as they make things — that the American people are not as crazy as they are — at least the majority aren’t. And so I remain hopeful.

OLBERMANN: All right, before the other two topics, I gotta cheat and ask you a book question.  Is there any part of the story about the role that part of the Bush family had in the making of “Roger & Me” that you can tell now without hurting book sales?

MOORE: Yes, well, I don’t — the book sales, you know, people are going to read this book.  And frankly — Go to the library. Books are overpriced anyway. You can get it for free at the library. No, seriously, I mean that.

OLBERMANN: I know. I know you do. I know. Eight publishers just jumped.

MOORE: I know, I know. I think they’re giving smelling salts to the person from the — they’re okay. God bless the publishers.

But no — in this, yes — there’s two dozen short stories in this book, and one of the short stories from my life, stories I have not told for the most part ever before — is how a member of the Bush family gave me my start some 20-plus years ago. And long before there was a George W. Bush or whatever. And — and so without giving away —


MOORE: — the story, I think people will be surprised to learn that there would be no filmmaker sitting here, there would have been no “Roger & Me” had it not been for somebody who was very much a part of — of the Bush dynasty, so to speak.

OLBERMANN: To quote one of Mel Brooks’ lines — “Where did I go right?” would be what they would be saying.

MOORE: Right, it turned out to be very bizarre.

OLBERMANN: Stay with me over the break, ’cause I said I want to show you the latest — the video we got today from Occupy Wall Street, ask you about that and the coverage gap between that and, say, one tea party guy having a meeting with himself in, you know, Drop-Dead, Texas. And I also — more seriously — want to ask about the execution of Troy Davis, which I know has really gotten to you.

MOORE: Yes. Thank you.

OLBERMANN: We went to Occupy Wall Street today. The new video, Michael’s reaction — that’s next. This is “Countdown.”


OLBERMANN: More with Michael. The Occupy Wall Street protest and why 20 tea partiers can get on the evening news, but six days of rallies against control of the Nation by the financial industry won’t get covered unless I send a crew, which I did. Maybe it’s the lack of party hats. Once again, amazing revelations about this commissioner’s New York City police department now caught spying on everybody in the city from one African nation. And after the execution of Troy Davis, are we asking the wrong question? Not was he innocent, but why are we killing anybody? Rick Perry’s new Florida co-chair believes hurricanes and fires are God’s punishment for gay marriage. She also believes she gets to decide who gets raised from the dead and who doesn’t. Well, I’m out of luck. Back with Michael Moore on Occupy Wall Street and the Troy Davis execution in a moment.


OLBERMANN: We rejoin you with “Countdown.”

Michael Moore’s still with me, and I have much to ask him about two more topics — the execution of Troy Davis last night in Georgia and our fourth story, Occupy Wall Street, Day Six. There are still several hundred on the streets of New York’s financial district. They are still ignored by those who presumably support them, by those who oppose them, by those who should seemingly just be reporting on them. Why? Back with Michael after “Countdown’s” brief visit to Occupy Wall Street.

(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: We aren’t going to put up with corporate corruption anymore. We aren’t going to put up with corporate money in our politics, corporate money around the world controlling everything, controlling all of our natural resources, controlling all of our lives.

(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: #2: There’s a lot of people here that realize something is wrong, but they don’t know what.

(Excerpt from video clip) MAN #3: These big businesses like Bank of America and Exxon have so much influence over our government, they will never be held accountable until the people stand up and beg for justice.

(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: We can televise, you know, the — all of the protests in the Middle East but we can’t — this is happening in our own backyard, you know. Why isn’t this on TV? Why?

(Excerpt from video clip) MAN #4: There are a bunch of people basically gambling with all of our futures, and I don’t agree with that. I don’t consent to that.

(Excerpt from video clip) MAN #5: Our politicians no longer represent us, the people. The voice of the people has not been heard.

(Excerpt from video clip) MAN #6: These people are out here talking about things that affect everybody — problems with the banking system, problems with politics, my 401(k) plan, your 401(k) plan — the problems with how it all works.

(Excerpt from video clip) MAN #7: I lost my job, and I lost my health insurance. I sort of have a social safety net from the unemployment insurance, which citizens pay for. This is a difficult story to tell, and that it’s still an unfolding story. I think — until there’s a compelling narrative of why people have decided to peacefully occupy Zuccotti Park — I think it’s very hard to communicate that story to everyone else.

OLBERMANN: Erica Ferrari got that for us. Thank you, Erica.

Continuing now with Michael Moore. I asked Will Bunch this question last night, let me ask a version of it to you tonight: that’s 2,000 or 500 or 50 tea partiers there — protesting taxes or protesting stimulus or protesting anything else they don’t like on Wall Street — it’s on the evening news. Isn’t it?

MOORE: Oh, absolutely. You wouldn’t need that many tea partiers there. It would be the top story. And the same thing a couple of weeks ago, when a thousand environmentalists were arrested at the White House. Imagine a thousand tea partiers arrested. This — I don’t — I can’t speak for why the networks have not covered this.

This is really the very first, down on Wall Street, in the finical district — the very first attempt since the crash of ’08 to take a real stand, and it’s been powerful. And I gotta — I gotta believe that — even though it may only number in the hundreds right now, this is going to grow — not only on Wall Street, but in communities all over America.

And I would encourage people watching this show to think about — okay, you can’t make it to New York City. But there is a branch of Chase Bank in your town. There is a branch of Bank of America, and there’s nothing preventing you from organizing a demonstration outside that branch with signs, with possibly even civil disobedience to make your voices heard.

They think they’re going to get away with this. These people stole the pension funds of the American public, who stole their money, who stole the future of our kids and grandkids. They think — they’re kleptomaniacs, and they think they’re going to get away with it. They have taken our democracy and formed it into a kleptocracy. And if we don’t stand up — if we don’t have our voices heard — they, believe me, they’re not done yet.

There’s a reason why corporate America — and I think you’ve pointed this out before — they’re holding $2 trillion of cash in their bank accounts. They’ve never done this before, never held onto that much. They’ve taken — they’ve taken that money out of circulation, and they’re waiting. They know the other shoe’s going to drop, and as mayor Bloomberg said last week — he said there’s going to be riots in the street. If we don’t provide jobs right away, there are going to be riots.

This is Mayor Bloomberg, the billionaire talking — this isn’t Michael Moore saying this. This is Mayor Bloomberg saying this. They know — and the smart rich know they can only build the gate so high — and sooner or later, history proves that people, when they’ve had enough, aren’t going to take it anymore. And much better to deal with it non-violently now, through the political system, than what could possibly happen in the future, which nobody wants to see.

OLBERMANN: The premise of — the pretext of — ‘The left wing media exists to mask the kind of right-wing media belligerence’ — I won’t use the term bias, but it’s belligerently right wing. Assuming that’s not going to change, what do the protestors in this group and other groups as the ones you just suggested — what do they need to change, if anything — modify, improve — to make the system bend to their will?

MOORE: I think there needs to be a many-pronged approach. Civil disobedience on Wall Street is one approach. People doing things locally their communities is another approach. People who are being foreclosed upon need to know that they can’t find the original mortgage — the bank can’t find it, I can tell you that right now because they split it up and they bundled it and put it into derivatives and nobody really owns your mortgage — so you should never leave your house.  You should resist this as long as you non-violently can. I think, Keith, here’s the thing — there is so much rebellion that is percolating right now just under the surface.


MOORE: All it’s going to take — all it’s going to take — and you and I probably — we can’t predict when this is going to happen, how it’s going to happen, but there’s going to be a couple of holes that are going to go into that surface. And that is going to just — just come up like a geyser.

And you’re going to see massive public reaction against what’s been done to their middle class life. The working poor of this country have suffered long enough, and they’re not going to take it. And I think you know that. I know that. Mayor Bloomberg knows that. Warren Buffett knows that. And, so they can keep talking about this all they want, but if there isn’t serious action right away — what you see on Wall Street, that’ll be known as — ‘That’s where it began.’

You know, I went down there when I made my last movie. It was just me with some police crime tape, and I wrapped it around the stock exchange as my form of protest. And I was very nervous doing that because I saw the cops coming, and I’m thinking — I saw one officer starts toward me. I said “Sir, I’m just really just making a movie, just a little comedy.”


MOORE: And he said — and he said to me, “That’s okay, Mike.” He said, “These guys in here, they’ve lost so much money out of our police pension fund as a result of what they’ve done.”


MOORE: He said to me — New York cop — he says, “You just take all the time you want.”


MOORE: I said, “Oh, okay. Wow, the police are on our side.”

OLBERMANN: There’s your first hole in the ground. The second one was the hit from Wisconsin, and we’ll see what the third one is.

All right, look, I am devoting the last segment of this show to the big issue of the death penalty, but I wanted to give you time to react to this execution last night, the death of Troy Davis. Let me start by reading what you wrote on your website today, and then you can take it from there:

“I encourage everyone I know to never to travel to Georgia, never buy anything made in Georgia, to never do business in Georgia. I will ask my publisher to pull my book from every Georgia bookstore, and if they won’t do that, I will donate every dime of every royalty my book makes in Georgia to help defeat the racists and killers who run that state. I ask all Americans which a conscience to shun anything and everything to do with the murderous state of Georgia.”

To say that’s strong is to understate it. Why does this case engender that reaction from you?

MOORE: A man was murdered last night in our name. You know, I’m part of this country. I may not be a resident of the state of Georgia, but last time I looked, Georgia was in the United States of America, and they murdered a man that they did not know committed — there is so much evidence — so many people have recanted their testimony. No DNA. No gun. I mean, it’s just so — I’m just so outraged by this.

I just got word before we came on the air. I asked my publisher this morning, “I want you to stop shipping books — my book to Georgia. I want you to pull the books out of there. I don’t want a dime being made. I don’t want to make a dime off of that state until that state acts to change things.” And they just told me that they can’t. They can’t recall the books.

So I am going to go to the next step then. I’m going to write a big check to the Innocence Project, who have gotten hundreds of people exonerated who were sitting in prisons. And — and since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty, well over 100 people — who were on death row, who we were going to execute, we have then discovered they were falsely convicted, and they were set free. Well, they almost died — this Innocence Project is a great organization.

I’m also going to fund whatever voter drives in Georgia — there’s 600,000 African-Americans in the last election that were not registered to vote. I will get behind whatever drive there is in Georgia to register our fellow Americans who are African-Americans, so that they have a chance to have their voice heard. This has got to be stopped. We are a civilized nation, and yet we do not join the other civilized nations of this planet when we do things like this.

OLBERMANN: They didn’t just almost die. We almost killed them. That’s the point, right? Michael Moore.

MOORE: That’s right.

OLBERMANN: The new book is “Here Comes Trouble: Stories of my Life.” You’ve heard about the charitable donation Michael has just set up. And Michael just coincidently is a delight, and is speaking tonight in Beverly Hills, exactly four and a half blocks from where I used to live. It’s not really relevant, but what the hell? Always a pleasure, sir. Thanks for your time. Take care.

MOORE: Thank you for having me on, Keith. Thanks for the great job you are doing.

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