The Rachel Maddow Show | March 13, 2013
>> for joining us this hour. wow.
>>> the big news in the world today, obviously is the important story not just for the world's more than 1 billion catholics. it's a big story for everyone and everything influnszed by the catholic church . we learned the new pope will be the former cardinal jorge mario bergoglio . as of today, he is pope francis , francis i. this is different this time around not only because this is the first south american pope and the first jesuit pope, this is also different because of the very special circumstances that ended the reign of the last pope. the last pope is still around. pope benedict is now pope emeritus. because he ended in resignation not death, it has not happened in 600 years. the former pope will be around and living on the grounds of the vatican as the new pope takes over. we have the retired pope, pope benedict and the new pope, pope francis . much more on the new pope and what we know of his history and what it means for the church and the politics of the church this hour. that, of course, is the big world news story today. domestically, the big news story is the big political news that just happened here on this network.
>> what is your name and what are you all about?
>> my name is scott prouty . i'm a regular guy, middle class , hard working guy. you know, i think i would like to think i have a good moral compass and a core and i think i have a little bit of empathy. i think i have more empathy than mitt romney had. i don't know how to describe myself, but i was behind this whole thing. i was bar tending that night for the romney fund-raiser.
>> my colleague, ed schultz just broke the news tonight of the biggest unanswered question . the biggest remaining unknown of the presidential election cycle we just had. the romney fund-raiser scott prouty was talking about what where mitt romney made the infamous remarks that shook the campaign to the core. it affected the course of the whole election.
>> there are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. 47% with him who are dependent upon government who believe they are victims who believe they are entitled to health care , to food, to housing, you name it. my job is not to worry about those people. i'll never convince them that they should take personal responsible.
>> before tonight, we did not know how we got that tape or the identity of the person who made the recording. it was a man named scott prouty , who was bar tending at that event. we did not know his motivation. we didn't know why he did what he did or whether he acted alone. now we know all of those things and what he thinks today of his actions. tonight on the ed schultz show , we learned he is a registered independent. he was not politically active before this. he acted alone. he acted without malice aforethought . he took a camera to work because nobody told him he shouldn't. nobody told him he was not allowed to bring a camera into the room. the second reason he brought the camera is a man named bill clinton . listen.
>> did you know you were going to record him?
>> you know, i did -- i brought the camera and a lot of other people brought cameras, like i said thinking he would come back and take pictures. clinton came back with the staff and took pictures. that was really my thought. i hadn't really made up my mind. i was willing to listen to what he had to say. i was interested in what he had to say. i didn't go there with a grudge, you know, against romney . i was more interested as a voter.
>> mr. prouty worked at a previous political fund-raiser where bill clinton was the speaker. because bill clinton at that fund-raiser came back after the fund-raiser and met the staff and talked to people and shook hands and took pictures of people, he had his camera on hand in kasz it happened with mitt romney . that did not happen with mitt romney . having the camera there resulted that a different outcome. a fascinating thing we learned is it was not actually the 47% remarks that motivated him to go public with the recording. it was something mr. romney said earlier before he got to the 47% thing.
>> when i was back in my private equity days we went to china to buy a factory that employed 20,000 people, women between the ages of 18 and 22 or 23.
>> it was that anecdote, that casual reference to buying a factory in china that scott prouty said made him sit up and take notice. this recording that he was making just for himself, for a souvenir of the evening might end up being a politically important thing. the way mitt romney was talking on the campaign trail, he realized was not the way romney was talking at private meetings. he never could have imagined mitt romney telling the public these stories about shopping for factories in china with horrible work environments. ultimately, what this guy was doing, what he was doing in private was not the same thing as in public. this every day guy, a political bartender heard that and decided this recording he was making was important and he had to go public with it. he thought everybody should know what mitt romney thought about issues like this. what he thought when he was talking behind closed doors . when he was talking behind closed doors to people who could afford to get into a fund-raiser like that.
>> the people there that night, they paid $50,000 per person for dinner. you know, i grew up in a blue collar area in boston and nobody i know can pay, can afford to pay $50,000 for dinner. i don't know anybody that can do that. in a way, i felt like, you know, whether you are a republican or an independent, there's a lot of people who can't afford to pay $50,000 for one night for dinner. i felt an obligation, in a way, to release it. i felt an obligation for all the people who can't afford to be there. you shouldn't have to be able to afford $50,000 to hear what the candidate actually thinks.
>> all the people who can't afford to be there, you shouldn't have to be able to afford $50,000 to hear what he actually in the exclusive interview, despite being shocked at what he saw and feeling the obligation it needed to be shared with others, so people with $50,000 weren't the only ones to hear it. he knew the implications. he was worried about being found out. he was worried about getting his co-workers or the company he worked for in trouble. he considered not putting the video out. he considered keeping it in the drawer where he stashed it after the fund-raiser and where it stayed for a couple weeks until he decided he had no choice.
>> there were times i went back and forth a little bit. i woke up in the middle of the night one night and i was, you know, in the darkness of my house looking out the window and thinking about it. i walked into the bathroom and i looked in the mirror and the words, you coward, came out of my mouth. i said you are a coward. you are an absolute coward because i was leaning toward not putting it out. it kind of came out of my mouth. i, you know, i went back to bed. i said that's not going to work. i'm going to put it out. i'm going to be proud i did it. i'm going to do it to the beth of my ability and make sure as many people as possible hear it. at least when i turned the corner, i felt good about it and like i was doing the right thing. i went down the path and never looked back.
>> went down the path and never looked back. mitt romney called his 47% remarks unfortunate. after standing by the remarks, he's talked about them a number of ways since. he told fox news what he said that night hurt his campaign. what he said that night is not what he actually believes. it is difficult to say if this was the deciding factor in the election. there's a lot of polling on that question. it's hard to say for sure. the man who made the recording agonized over the decision of whether or not to release it. we know he did not walk into the room politically motivated. he got motivated by what he heard in that room. that is how something he recorded for himself, something to be a souvenir to show his girlfriend or a camera to have on hand in case he met romney to shake his hand. that was an important factor in who would be the leader in the most powerful nation on earth. an unaffiliated guy, acting on his own. it's a remarkable story . joining us now is david corn . he went to david with the story because he read and respected david 's reporting. he knew he would do right. david , thank you so much for being here. this is a big day in the story .
>> it's great to share this evening with you, rachel. i was on your show the night the story broke. i think it's great people out there, millions who wondered who recorded the video could see scott present himself in his own words about what he did. the great thing about the video itself. i have been doing journalism many years. this was sort of unimpeachable fact. people can watch the video and decide for themselves what they made of it. it required no analysis. it was reality. a slice of reality. now we see scott on "the ed show" talking about why he did that. another slice of reality. you can have the full story of what led to this video. no secrets or tricks. he's able to get the credit he deserves.
>> what can you tell us about the decision to go public. scott prouty decided to go public now and say who he is. he decided not to do it at the time of the election. did you engage with him or have insight on what he felt about the decision?
>> there was a lot of angst. i have a story up on the mother jones site that goes into that. this is more his story to tell than mine. during the campaign, before the campaign was over, you know, media folks were coming to me, trying to reach him or reaching him making all sorts of offers if he would go public some involving money and other benefits. he time and time again said he didn't want to make himself the story . he didn't want to distract from mitt romney 's own words. also, if he went public, he would be a bulls eye on his target. rush limbaugh would try to make him the story . i don't know if there's dirt on him. didn't seem that way tonight. i think it's hard to stay in the shadows. when everyone is talking about this. imagine the conversations you must have in this situation with people around you. god, did you hear about the tape? did you see it on the news? you have to say yeah, i'm kind of familiar with that when you want to say it was me. also, he described he was not in the best financial straights. he's a working class , college educated bartender. he put his job on the line. he had to worry about his own future. he was living month-to-month in terms of paying for his apartment. he had real concerns about his future. i also think in the thrust of all this, he and i wondered whether there would be recriminations that he more than i that we would have to worry about. there was one night i said you know, there's a sedan parked in front of my house that i have never seen before. i said it half jokingly. he said there's a suspicious car outside my house, too. there was a lot going on in his life. it was a big event and he couldn't share it with a lot of people. that makes it more difficult.
>> learning tonight it was him acting alone, he didn't go in with any intention of doing this. he planned on having the camera in case there was an opportunity for a souvenir. he didn't work with strategists on this or working with a campaign.
>> that's what's kind of thrilling about this story . how much money was spent to try to elect mitt romney president? i don't know, half a billion and a billions. what happened? a working class bartender who was driven ultimately by his passions, values and beliefs because of a 67 clip on a longer tape i don't know if it totally brought romney down, but it made it more difficult for him to win the election. you can have all the money in the world, but one guy with a video camera standing up for the principle of sacrifice and putting himself in the line of fire at some risk. well, look at the impact he had. it's hard to find a corollary to this.
>> the impact from his perspective. also, a lot of people who are political pros say in a campaign, steve schmidt talks about this, working with john mccain . he said a presidential campaign is like an mri. everything that needs to be known about you will be. if you try to have conversations with people behind closed door that is are different than the conversations out in public, eventually the doors open.
>> steve is partly right. had it not been for scott , then steve would have been wrong.
>> mitt romney would have gone through the whole campaign telling things privately to people that he did not believe and telling something different to the voters. it was a close call .
>> a close call driven by a man alone making a decision of conscience in the middle of the night looking in the mirror figuring out what he needed to do for his values. david corn , washington bureau chief for mother jones and the man trusted because of his reporting. congratulations, ape gain, thank you.
>> congratulations to scott .
>> obviously, that's big news today in american politics . and really big news in the world today is white smoke. the catholic church with great pomp and ceremony electing a new pope. we'll have more on that ahead. stay with us.