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A 'Hereafter' Where Matt Damon Sees Dead People

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A 'Hereafter' Where Matt Damon Sees Dead People


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A 'Hereafter' Where Matt Damon Sees Dead People

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I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. It's time for our weekly visit to the Barbershop where the guys talk about what's in the news and what's on their minds. Sitting in the chairs for a shapeup this week are author Jimi Izrael, columnist Ruben Navarrette, Johns Hopkins Political Science Professor and blogger Lester Spence and Sports Illustrated reporter Pablo Torre. Take it away Jimi.

Mr. JIMI IZRAEL (Author, "The Denzel Principle"): Thanks Michel, wait hold on, you caught me at a weird moment, hold on.

(Soundbite of camera taking a picture)

Mr. IZRAEL: Okay yeah. I just had to take a picture. I had to take a picture so I can send to my significant other, never mind, anyway. Ladies and gentlemen...

MARTIN: Don't show us, we don't want to see it, unless it's of the flowers you are sending us.

Mr. IZRAEL: How are we doing there gentlemen?

Mr. PABLO TORRE (Reporter, Sports Illustrated): I just had breakfast. You need to keep that to yourself.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. IZRAEL: On a related note, on a related note we're going to talk about football. So your boy, Minnesota Vikings' quarterback Brett Favre, he's in the news again Michel and it has nothing at all to do with his play on the field but his allegedly playing around off the field.

MARTIN: You know, I am rather upset because you know any (unintelligible) Brett Favre, part of his - I've been defending him to the max because you know he's in his 40s and still playing the game. And the allegations for those who have missed it are that he sent lewd photos and racy text messages to a game day hostess and employee of the New York Jets when he was with the team two years ago.

The NFL is investigating the incident because it's, you know, this is an employee and they're saying he could face some sort of punishment for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy. He talked about this on Wednesday when he was asked about this scandal and this is what he - and asked how this compared to some other off the field distractions that he's faced during his career.

Mr. BRETT FAVRE (NFL Quarterback): I don't rank them you know. You go through, you know, different things in your life. Football is a very tough sport, mentally and physically. And last year was great, almost too great. But I feel - I mean, I woke up this morning and was eager, a little tired from the trip, but was very eager to get over here and more so than last year at this time to get this back on track.

Mr. IZRAEL: Okay, thanks for that Michel. He did kind of a little two-step around that question, huh? So, all right, if not for Brett Favre, if not for his scandal we'd be talking about something else. Now Pittsburgh Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger, he returns fresh off his four-game suspension so Ruben, I'm going to toss it to you first. You praised the NFL for the Roethlisberger suspension, what should the league do about Favre?

Mr. RUBEN NAVARRETTE (Columnist): Well, you know, it will be very interesting to see exactly because of this employee angle, the fact that it is you know, it's right up there, it's sexual harassment. This is...

Mr. IZRAEL: It is sexual harassment.

Mr. NAVARRETTE: There are - alleged I mean, it's alleged.

Mr. IZRAEL: Alleged, sorry.

Mr. NAVARRETTE: But at issue here is something different than, you know, doing something with a fan in a nightclub or whatever. The story, you know, recently about the...

(Soundbite of camera taking a picture)

Mr. NAVARRETTE: ...Mexican TV reporter in the Jets locker room. You need to cut that out, you need to stop taking those pictures.

But you know I think there is a difference there. We're about to find out what the difference is. But I am just struck and disappointed that these people, these big boys, who never grew up, continue to do stuff like this and be accused of doing this stuff when they are the center of attention, when they have lives that little boys dream of one day having. You know these are people who are in the case of Brett Favre, headed for the Hall of Fame and I think it's just disappointing.

Whenever these stories come up, whether it's in politics with politicians behaving badly with regard to women or sports figures, I always think to Michel and some of the women associated with this program and I wonder to them, do they ever cease to be disappointed in us as gender, you know?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. NAVARRETTE: Do we ever surprise them? I didn't expect that you know. I think we crossed that barrier some time ago.

MARTIN: Thank you for asking but no I don't generalize. I think people are, you know, I don't apply their behavior to any of you.

Mr. IZRAEL: Pablo.

Mr. TORRE: I mean for me, I mean, I think will he be suspended? I mean Roger Goodell has wielded the personal conduct policy in a way that is fluid to say the least and so he's not going to abide by any letter of the law necessarily. He'll go by the spirit and this certainly would apply.

What we've learned this NFL season though, as far as Ben Roethlisberger and Brett Favre goes, and I've really learned throughout the course of football history is that the best rehab center for PR is the field. And so if these guys play well look at Michael Vick, for example... suddenly

Mr. NAVARRETTE: Right. Right.

Mr. TORRE: ...he's suddenly redeemed, even if it has nothing to do with his personal conduct. But for me, the take away from this is just further admiration of Derek Jeter - who is a guy who is maybe the best, the number one star celebrity-wise in baseball has been for a decade and has done two things: he's never married and has dated seemingly every attractive woman he has come across.

Mr. NAVARRETTE: Amen, bro.

Mr. TORRE: And has yet to be embroiled in personal scandal. And so you wonder, why aren't these guys more like Derek Jeter? Why must they, I mean again, not to comment on their personal lives, they may have gotten married, but Derek Jeter is a guy who's basically the archetype and has been amazingly, literally spotless - which is stunning in this age of sports, and has gotten to do everything these guys have wanted to do behind closed doors, and gotten success and marketing money and all of that they could ever dream of.

Mr. NAVARRETTE: good point.

MARTIN: So it's interesting. So Pablo, in a sense what you're saying, why do you get married if you want to do all that.

Mr. TORRE: Right.

MARTIN: I mean, well, that the marriage question wouldn't address this. Roethlisberger is accused of sexually assaulting a woman who had too much to drink. So that, like, being one. So being...

Mr. TORRE: Right. Right in a public bathroom. Right.

MARTIN: In a public bathroom. So that, you know, being married has nothing to do with that. And in Bret Favre's case, he's accused of sexually harassing an employee, which is...

Mr. TORRE: But...

MARTIN: So marriage - but you do make an important point, which is if you're going to be a player, be a player. Why do you feel you need to get...

Mr. TORRE: Well, yes.

MARTIN: ...all, you know, why do you want to pretend? Just be a player, if that's the way you want to roll.

Mr. TORRE: Exactly. Don't pretend and also, I mean there are lessons for Ben Roethlisberger here too, don't be a moron. I mean there are very obvious things to do. And for Bret Favre also it's don't take photos, don't allegedly assault someone in a public bathroom. These aren't very hard rules of him and it seems like...

Mr. NAVARRETTE: Right. Right.

Mr. TORRE: And it seems that only the cream of the crop, it seems, the Derek Jeters and only a few exceptions, have mastered those lessons, which is in an age of millionaires, is very stunning.

MARTIN: Good point.

Mr. IZRAEL: Speaking of people being morons, the White House on Monday, invited a group of black bloggers for a half day policy briefing with some of the presidents senior advisers. Strangely, the meeting was supposed to be on background, but apparently, one of the bloggers did not get that memo, Michel.

MARTIN: Yes. One of the blogs, ConcreteLoop.com posted video of the president when he dropped by and addressed the group. It was recorded on a cell phone so it's a little hard to make out. But he's telling this group of bloggers how they can help the White House reach audiences that they may not be connecting with. So you want to we'll try to play it for you. Well, see if you listen. See if you can hear.

(Soundbite of White House policy briefing)

President BARACK OBAMA: ...websites, like what you guys do every day, do two things. Number one, it allows us to reach audiences that may not be watching "Meet The Press."

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. IZRAEL: Wow. Thanks for that...

MARTIN: Hardy-har-har.

Mr. IZRAEL: Yeah, it's like, I don't know but...

MARTIN: Go ahead.

NORTHAM: ...it's something about him going to meet with ConcreteLoop.com, its not a dig on them, but everybody knows that, you know, they are more famous for, you know, their crotch pictures then they are for, you know, for political commentary.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. IZRAEL: So it doesn't make sense...

Mr. TORRE: But who isn't these days?

Mr. IZRAEL: Right. I mean yeah, but why didn't he go see Perez Hilton to, right?

Mr. TORRE: Right. Right.

Mr. IZRAEL: So, you know what, Lester...

Mr. TORRE: (unintelligible) next week.

Mr. IZRAEL: Right. Lester, you're a blogger, though you were not invited to this meeting. Were the bloggers is wrong to post this video or is the White House to blame for wanting to use a black bloggers to spread this policy agenda?

MARTIN: But, I have to say there are bloggers and there are bloggers. You know, all bloggers are not the same. I mean to Lester's point.

Mr. IZRAEL: Right.

MARTIN: Lester writes about politics. There's a gossip blog and that it's more famous for promoting, you know, who Shaquille O'Neill is sleeping with, than politics. So that's the question I would have for, you know, Lester. Go ahead Lester. He didn't invite me either.

Prof. SPENCE: Well, yeah, first, I am a political scientist who used to blog. I am not a blogger. I don't consider myself a blogger. And I do that not to play people who do blog but just to make that firm distinction. Second, I think that there are bloggers who understand themselves to be journalists and who uphold the standards of journalism, and then there are bloggers who don't. Right? So, but, and that's the distinction I think that perhaps the president didn't understand here. But on top of that, I actually, I think that there are times in which that specific rule should be broken. But unfortunately, because this black blogger thing appeared to me to be more of a means from the White House to buy off black constituencies than to engage in that substantive dialogue. You know, we end up not really talking about that aspect. I think that...

Mr. IZRAEL: I'm sorry. Go ahead.

Prof. SPENCE: Yeah. Yeah. Real quick. I think that it would have been interesting to see somebody like say, Prometheus 6 or Earl Donovan to...

Mr. IZRAEL: Right.

Prof. SPENCE: ...somebody like that there, at a meeting, where he could both put the president's, hold the president's feet to the fire and then at the same time maybe assist the president in his directives.

Mr. IZRAEL: Ruben.

Mr. NAVARRETTE: I think he could've been done in a more serious way. I think that's the point we're talking about here. There's nothing wrong with reaching out to black bloggers or bloggers of any color or background, but to do it in a substantive way. To do it - there are people out there, you know there are black folks out there who watch "Meet The Press." There are black folks out there who blog and who have a journalism background or who have an academic background, and who are people of substance. And I think that the criticism if there is one for the White House, is sort of playing the lowest common denominator and in terms of the guest list.

And I probably have less problem with the person who put the video up. I mean my thing is if you're videotaping the president, you've got your phone up or you've got something up somebody knows this is going on. There's got to be somebody in the room, one of the president's handlers who comes up to that person afterwards and says listen, you know, I saw you were videotaping this. Let's just make clear again this is not to go out. So, somebody dropped the ball on the White House end of it. I think the real story here is not that somebody broke quote "the rules," with regards to posting something that should have been off the record, but rather what is the president thinking exactly in terms of reaching out to a group of people that are frankly, probably believe him and beneath the office?

MARTIN: Tough. If you're just joining us...

Mr. IZRAEL: Mm-hmm. Whoa. It's hard but it's fair.

MARTIN: It's hard but it's fair. If you're just joining us, youre listening to - we're having our weekly visit to the Barbershop and were joined by columnist Ruben Navarrette, Jimi Izrael, political science professor Lester Spence, make that clear - not a blogger, a political science professor who sometimes blogs. And...

Prof. SPENCE: Somebody's got to do it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: ...Sports Illustrated reporter Pablo Torre.

Back to you Jimi.

Prof. SPENCE: Get it right, baby.

Mr. IZRAEL: Thank you Michel and thank you for that correction, Dr. Spence. So, Michel, tomorrow marks the 15th anniversary of the Million Man March. Now for those of you who may or may not remember the event, it was a day-long rally were African-American men peacefully gathered at the National Monument to renew a commitment to self empowerment and uplift the race, I guess.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Yeah. Do you guys - do you all remember? I know Lester you were there. Jimi, you were there.

Mr. IZRAEL: I was there, yeah.

MARTIN: I covered it. I covered it for "Nightline" back then. I'll just - I think for a lot of people it was a very interesting event. It kind of combined this kind of political empowerment and spirituality, sort of peace and it was always controversial because it was organized by Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam. And I had a short clip of him. Does anybody want to hear it just to refresh your memories about...

Mr. IZRAEL: Yeah. Drop it. Drop it

MARTIN: ...what kind of the tone was? Very different from what a lot of people have expected. Here it is.

Minister LOUIS FARRAKHAN (Leader, Nation of Islam): I.


Minister FARRAKHAN: Say your name.

CROWD: (Unintelligible).

Minister FARRAKHAN: From this day forward.

CROWD: From this day for.

Minister FARRAKHAN: Will strive.

CROWD: Will strive.

Minister FARRAKHAN: To improve myself.

CROWD: To improve myself.

Minister FARRAKHAN: Spiritually.

CROWD: Spiritually.

Minister FARRAKHAN: Morally.

CROWD: Morally.

Minister FARRAKHAN: Mentally.

CROWD: Mentally.

Minister FARRAKHAN: Socially.

CROWD: Socially.

Minister FARRAKHAN: Politically.

CROWD: Politically.

Minister FARRAKHAN: And economically.

CROWD: And economically.

Minister FARRAKHAN: For the benefit of myself.

CROWD: For the benefit of myself.

Minister FARRAKHAN: My family.

CROWD: My family.

Minister FARRAKHAN: And my people.

CROWD: And my people.

Minister FARRAKHAN: I...


Mr. IZRAEL: Thanks for that, Michel.


Mr. IZRAEL: Wow. Yeah, I remember that. Dr. Spence, you were there too, right?

Prof. SPENCE: Yeah, I was there. I...

Mr. IZRAEL: Man, what would you go today? Because I'm not sure if I would go today.

Prof. SPENCE: Well...

Mr. IZRAEL: I'm going to go and put that out there. For me there was never a really clear agenda beyond atonement, which for me is a really personal, private spiritual thing. And, I don't know, what about you?

Prof. SPENCE: I think, as I was there, and taking it in, it was a beautiful thing. But the politics were bad from the jump, right?

Mr. IZRAEL: Right.

Prof. SPENCE: So its not like wow, 15 years later we're not where we were back then.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Prof. SPENCE: No, the politics were bad in at least two ways: first, in that it was really, really patriarchal, right, where we want to return to this place where men could be men, right. That's not really what we want. But second, we go to the seat of government. Everybody else is lobbying D.C. routinely for stuff right? We go to protest ourselves. We go to ask or nothing. We go to apologize. I like hated it. Those politics were so backwards, I could throw up.

MARTIN: But why did you go?

Prof. SPENCE: Because I didn't think I would ever see one million black men in the same place alone in my lifetime. And it wasn't about the violence thing. I mean granted, I'm, my fraternity, we beat each other up for fun and I've been around large numbers of them that and we can all get together fine, right. It wasn't that, but it was just about being in that space with one million other black men - I didn't think I'd ever see that again.

Mr. IZRAEL: That was one of the reasons I went to, and at the time I was a newly minted Freemason so I felt I had a reason to represent. But it was one of them things, where, you know, I went and I was hoping that I would hear like a plan of action or something, and I think I left with a T-shirt and a few pictures. So beyond...

MARTIN: Well, but, to that point though, Jimi though...

Prof. SPENCE: I had a bean pie for the first time.

Mr. IZRAEL: Really?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Prof. SPENCE: Bean pies are the bomb.

MARTIN: But people did register - you could - there was a theory though, that there really was a Million Man March, in fact, in terms of the propensity of young African-Americans to register to vote after there was kind of a bump in the midterm. So there is some question that it did engage a particular group of people. Yet, younger voters, younger people particularly who haven't developed the habit of voting, often have to be, you know, really interested to vote and there is some sense that it did have an effect in terms of getting people acquainted with voting. There are a lot of - there were many people out there registering people to vote at that time, as I recall, so I think that Jimi asks the right question though, which is would you do it again today and the answer seems to be no.

Did, you guys, can I just ask the other guys, Ruben do you think, I mean, you know, given...


MARTIN: ...that there have been so many issues pertaining to the Latino community now, do you think I don't know the male aspect sort of aside, do you think those kinds of sort of mass action still have an effect in getting people's attention for things like that?

Mr. NAVARRETTE: Well, I think, well you hit on it. What's the effect really, what's the purpose here, I mean as Les pointed out, they weren't there to demand something of government. And maybe they are there in D.C. as opposed to like in Denver or Phoenix or Dallas because they want to get attention. But in terms of the empowerment message and the responsibility message, that's right on. That's right on. And I think, particularly in the black community, in the Hispanic community as well, but in the black community I'm less troubled by the fact that it was only men. Because I think, often times, in the black community, it's men who are the problem. I think that women, a lot of black women...

Mr. IZRAEL: Whoa.

Mr. NAVARRETTE: let me say it. A lot of black women, okay, a lot of black women who are mothers and taking care of their kids and raising their kids want the men in their lives to pull their weight. And I think that there is a real problem there. We all know it to be a problem. And I think that if you can stress that message of empowerment, responsibility, taking responsibility for your kids, providing for your kids, all that stuff, I think that is - that's very valuable. I think the problem with Farrakhan is he's very much obviously a mixed bag. Because you have the allegations of anti-Semitism. You have the fact that sometimes he says things that make him seem mad as a hatter, you know. And I think that - but the empowerment message I think is valuable, and I think that there is nothing wrong with, actually I'm going to disagree with Les here, nothing wrong with taking a day off from demanding something from government and actually turning it on us and saying demanding something for ourselves.

MARTIN: Wow. Well, shoot, more to talk about. Lester might want to reach through mic in grab your throat but.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Being violent. But unfortunately what we have that...

(Soundbite of crosstalk)

Mr. NAVARRETTE: ...beats up people in his fraternity. I'm not going to mess with him so...

MARTIN: ...in his fraternity, you know, he might want sort of paddle you. But before I let you go, I just, I'm sorry I just want to end on a note. We don't have time to talk about it, but we can't end the shop today without talking about the rescue of the 33 men in Chile. It was such a remarkable story. It was watched, kind of, around the world and to see these men being pulled to the surface intact and apparently healthy was quite a remarkable thing. And so I just feel, in their honor, because this is the Barbershop, we're going to play them singing their national anthem as we - goodbye.

Jimi Izrael is a freelance journalist and author of the book, "The Denzel Principle." He joined us from WCPN in Cleveland. Ruben Navarrette is a columnist who writes for the Washington Post Writers Group and CNN.com. He with us from San Diego. Pablo Torre is a reporter for Sports Illustrated. He was with us from NPR studios in New York. And Lester Spence is a political science professor at John's Hopkins University, who blogs. He was kind enough to join us from Baltimore.

Thank you all so much.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. TORRE: Thank you.

Mr. NAVARRETTE: Goodbye.

Prof. SPENCE: Peace

Mr. IZRAEL: Yup-yup.

(Soundbite of Chilean miners singing Chile's National Anthem)

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