May 5, 2016 - Ken Burns

  • 05/05/2016

President Obama drinks the water in Flint, MI, and Larry discusses the state of American baseball with Ken Burns, Mike Yard and Holly Walker.

("The Mexican Hat Dance"playing)

Whoo!Welcome to The Nightly Show!

Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay!


-(audience chanting "Larry!")-I am Larry... Oh, yes!

-♪ -AUDIENCE:Larry! Larry! Larry! Larry!

Gracias, gracias, amigos. Gracias.

Gracias. Thank you very much.

Feliz Cinco de Mayo, everybody.


-♪ -(cheering, applause)

Whoo! I am so excited.

I'm celebrating con this burrito grande.


-Huh? Oh.-Stop it.

-Oh, uh, Grace Parra, everybody.-Yes. Hello. Hi.

-(cheering, applause)-Hey, Grace. -Hello.

Hey-hey, Grace!

Happy Mexican July Fourth,Grace!

Oh, my God, Larry, it'snot Mexico's independence day!

-Huh? -Cinco de Mayo honorsMexico's unexpected victory

over the Frenchat the Battle of Puebla in 1862.


-(cheering, applause)-All right!

Mexico beat the French! Whoo!

Yes, until the Frenchreturned a year later

and then beat the (bleep)out of Mexico.

Lakes of blood.Corpses everywhere.

-Ah. Okay.-Yeah.

All right, well, maybeI'll just have a margarita!

-(cheering, applause)-Okay. All right.

-Yeah, come on! Whoo!-Sure, sure, sure.

Even though Cinco de Mayowas invented by beer companies

to sell their swillto Spanish speakers.

But, hey, you wantto exploit our culture

just for an excuse to drink,knock yourself out.

(cheering, applause)

That's all right.Grace "Para," everybody.

It's Parra! If only for today, it's Parra!

-(cheering, applause)-Get out of here! Go! Get! Get!

All right, fine.

Okay, that was a slightlyinappropriate celebration.


I wonder who else could have hadan inappropriate celebration

of Cinco de Mayo.

NEWSMAN: Mr. Trump just a few minutes ago

tweeted from his desk at Trump Tower,

"Happy Cinco de Mayo.

"The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill.

I love Hispanics."

And there is a picture of him eating a...

taco bowl, it looks like.


(like Trump): My complimentsto the drug-dealing rapist

who made the taco bowl.

Excuse me, excuse me.

It's fantastic.It's fantastic.


So yesterday--or Cuatro de Mayo,

as it's known in Casa Wilmore--

uh, President Obamavisited Flint, Michigan,

amid the city'songoing water crisis.

NEWSWOMAN: He's hearing firsthand about residents,

how they're coping with the city's toxic water crisis,

and he will meet with the eight-year-old little girl

whose letter prompted his visit.

Aw... man, that's very sweet.

You know, but what really gotthe president's attention was

what was written at the bottomof the little girl's note.

-(audience groaning)-So yeah. I know.

That was horrible,it was a horrible thing.

Uh, so embattledMichigan governor, Rick Snyder,

took the stageat Northwestern High School

prior to the president.

We have a short-termwater crisis

that needs to be repaired.

(loud booing)

Man! Last time I heardan audience boo like that,

it followed the announcement,"Ladies and gentlemen,

please welcomethe Bacon Brothers."


That's got to feel awful,though,

being booed by a group of people

who disagreewith every word you're saying

when all you're doing isstanding at a podium, you know,

just tryingto drop some science.


(applause, whooping)

Call me if you need someoneto talk to, Governor Snyder.

I'm just kidding.Don't call me.

Uh, but to his credit, Obamahelped calm residents' fears

by sampling some of the water.

(many camera shutters clicking)

And... uh,this used, uh, a filter.

Yeah, d...

Well, no, damn,he had to use a filter--

he's the Presidentof the United States.

I mean, I get the optics,but you can't take any chances.

Look, I'll tell you,check out what happened

when, moments earlier,a Flint official sampled

unfiltered water.



-(laughter, whooping, applause)-He chose poorly.

He did. Got to be careful.That's all I'm saying.

But Flint is not the only place

in Michiganthat's having some problems.

The Detroit public schools alsohave a bad taste in their mouth,

but for a different reason.

NEWSWOMAN ...union leaders telling

Detroit public school teachers to go back to their classrooms

after two days of sick-outs.

Our school system is falling apart.

NEWSMAN: Detroit schools include buildings in major disrepair,

some infested with mold and rodents.

Jesus. Infestedwith mold and rodents?

It's a public school,not Spirit Airlines.


What are they thinking, huh?

Spirit? Yeah.

But to be fair, the kidsare learning something--

not to be a teacherin a Detroit school.

NEWSMAN: Teachers were worried they would not get paid

because of the Detroit school district's financial problems.

This is terrible.

Does anybody seethe solution here?

Get the mold and rodentsto teach class.


The free ride is over, guys!

But seriously, seriously,

who'd you pick to runthe school system?

The same guy who screwed upthe water in Flint?

NEWSWOMAN: This is Darnell Earley.

He was emergency manager in Flint when the city

switched water sources, and then emergency manager

in Detroit public schools.

You have to be(bleep) kidding me.


I was joking.

I mean,what's the thinking there?

You can't shufflea public servant

who's ruined children's livesfrom sweet gig to sweet gig.

It's Detroit,not the Catholic Church.

(laughter, groaning)

-(applause, whooping)-Catholic? I'm sorry.



Now, Darnell Earley has sinceresigned from this position.

I hear he's now workingon the Trump campaign

as his Secretaryof Mismanagement.

-(laughter)-True. Mm.

But, now,Detroit isn't the only place

where our public educationsystem's coming up short.

In Tennessee,an educator was suspended

when her class was watchingthe film, Human Centipede 2.

-(groans)-Now... you've heard of this?

Okay, for those of younot currently binging

the Human Centipede franchise, uh...

-(laughter)-Oh, man.

Human Centipede 2-- okay, get ready--

it's about depravedGerman scientists

sewing a bunch of people's buttsto other people's mouths.

I know, I know.It's true.

Uh, now,I don't understand this at all.

I mean, to me, watching Human Centipede in high school,

I mean, that's like algebra--once you get out of high school,

you're nevergonna use that again.


What, is it.. is it just me?


Did I lose the room again?


Uh, now,Tennessee also is a state

that keeps trying to pass"abstinence only" education,

and so, I don't know,maybe the goal here

is to makeninth and tenth graders

never want to seea naked body again.


And you can't talkabout failing schools

without talking about Texas.

REPORTER: ...what's happening at Energy Institute High School

in the second-year French class.

-Does your teacher speak French?-No, sir.

Have you ever heard himspeak a word of French?

"Bonjour,"but everybody knows that.

(bleep), man. Seriously.


A teacher shouldknow more French

than just by being an adultin the world.

"Oui" means "yes".

"Merci" means "thank you".

And "Beyoncé" means

"if you cheat on me againI will castrate you."

-(mouths)-(cheering, applause)

Sure, Becky with the good hair,man, all right?

But, seriously,why doesn't this teacher

know the subject he's teaching?

REPORTER: So, why was he hired?

-(speaking French)-REPORTER: To replace this man,

Jean Cius, a certified French teacher

for more than 25 years.

Cius was sent to another HISD campus

where he says he was assigned to monitor the hall.

I feel so bad for the taxpayersbecause they're paying me

for not doing anything at all.

Christ. So the taxpayersare paying you

for doing nothing at all?

You know,we have a name for that.

It's called Congress.

(cheering, applause)

Yeah, I said it. I said it.

I said it.

Man. I'll tell you,these last few stories

make me feel as though ourschools are failing our kids.

Well, this next onemakes me feel like

our kids are gonna be okay.

REPORTER: Police say Hunter Cory Osborn

exposed his privates while posing for the team picture.

It wound up in the yearbook

and in the team program, which was sold at games.


I know what you're thinking.I know what you're thinking--

"Larry, was it just the turtlepeeking out

"or did he hang a brain?Which one...

which one did he do?"

Uh, but, you know, I don'thave the answer to that.

But what putsthis kid's penis prank

in The Nightly Sho hall of fameis this little development.

REPORTER: Based on the number of people nearby

when the photo was taken, Osborn was booked

on 69 counts of misdemeanor

indecent exposure.

Yes! Yes!

69 counts of misdemeanorindecent exposure.

69.Well done, sir.

-♪ -Well done.

-(cheering, applause)-Yes.

You did it, Hunter Cory Osborn.

You took yearbook penis pranksto the next level, my friend.

And for that, The Nightly Show salutes you.

That's our schools, America.

Be proud, man.

And happy Cinco de Mayo,everybody.

(cheering, applause)

Happy Cinco de Mayo.

We'll be right back.

Okay, welcome back.Now, earlier,

we were discussingthe problems, uh,

plaguing American high schools,

but higher educationhas its own issues.

Georgetown University is dealingwith the repercussions

of its past-- specifically,its legacy of slave trading.

MAN: In 1838, Georgetown University

sold 272 slaves

to help pay off some of its debts.

The 272 slaves, donated to the Catholic University

by wealthy parishioners,

earned Georgetown the equivalent of $3.3 million.

$3.3 million?

Jesus, for 272 slaves?

That's around$12,000 per person,

meaning in 1838,

black life was worth lessthan a used Mitsubishi Mirage.

-(audience groans)-I know.

Not even a Ford Fiesta?


All right, here's the question:

does modern-day GeorgetownUniversity have a responsibility

to take care of the descendantsof the slaves

whose sale essentiallysaved it from going under?

A lot of thorny issues here,

so let's talk to our residentblack egghead, Felonious Monk.

(cheering, applause)

-Felonious, welcome to the show.-Thanks. Thanks.

All right.

I want to try to talk this out,Felonious, so...

should Georgetown do something

for the great-great-great-grandchildren of these slaves?

Well, Brother Larry, when one--be it institution

or singular corporus--

partake in the odiousreprobation that is tenancy

over another's very anima,

an ovule is sown in Gaia'sbreast that burgeons not only

in the immediate, but foran unknowable epoch thereafter.

Right, right, right, right.

Right, okay, so you're saying

we're still feelingslavery's effects today.

Be you a parrot?

That is what I just said.

Oh, I know, totally.

I'm just clearing it upfor the audience, man, you know.

They might have...I get it, I get it. Okay.

But, okay, but what aboutthe fact that The New York Times

says, uh, Georgetownshould set up scholarships

for the descendantsof all these slaves?

Well, if Georgetown'shalls of academe found salvation

in the traffickment of theirfellows in the brotherhood

of man, then there bea blot upon

each certificateendowed therein.

And until amendment is made,

no esteem can be lentto its conferment.

Okay, okay. So...Oh, so you're saying

some form of repar...

-Ah, ah, ah.-Uh...

That vocable remainsunuttered in our colloquy.

Right, colloquy.

Uh, sorry about that.My bad.

Uh, but-but, I mean,still, this seems like

a clear-cut case where repara...

And yet...

you recapitulate with that word.

Your unceasing constancywould be risible

if it weren't so temerarious.

I'm just trying to say"reparations."

One must be disposedfor ferment and tumult

when the notion finds itselfconjected aloud.

Wait, you just don'twant me to say "reparations"

because itfreaks people out, right?

I plaintively begthat you preclude

further use of the R word,Brother Larry.

WILMORE:Sorry, sorry.

When one invokes compulsoryfiduciary redress

using that appellation,the anglo-hominidae

feels awakenedwithin the primal,

ominous presentiment.

Are you sayingwhite people get scared?


Yo, white peopleflip the (bleep) out

if you say "reparations".

-(cheering, applause)-Uh... Uh... Uh, Broth...

Hey. Now I... I understandthat. I understand that.

Okay. Okay, so, all right,

so, if we're not calling them"reparations," then what?

What do we...

Uh... I proposean idiom of equal meaning

possessing of less enmityin its associations.

Something akin to...


Yes, Georgetown should paya hefty compaymensement

to every descendant it can.

Compaymense... Wh-Wh... But whydon't we just say "reparations"?

You just made upa fancy-sounding word

to distract from whatyou're actually saying.

Uh, yeah, Larry.That's kind of my whole deal.

Right. Felonious Munk, everyone!

We'll be right back!

(cheering and applause)

Okay, welcome back to the show!

Now, I have to say,

in honorof our special guest tonight,

uh, we're doing thingsa little differently.

We're going full Ken Burns.

YARD: I was born in St. Croix,

where I used to use coffee filters as a baseball mitt.

I still can't believe that I'm on TV.

Mark Yard, contributor on The Nightly Show.

(cheering and applause)

WALKER: I started off in the minor leagues

of community theater.

Never thought I'd make it to the major leagues

as a contributor on The Nightly Show.

Holly Walker.

(cheering and applause)

BURNS: And I'm the one who came up with this old-timey filter

and panning move everyone is overusing.

Award-winning documentary filmmaker

and producer Ken Burns.

(cheering and applause)

And for everyone at home,join our conversation right now

on Twitter, @NightlyShow,using the hashtag, #Tonightly.

Ken, I'm so glad you're here.Uh, you know, I'm a huge fan.

And, uh, by the way,your latest documentary

about the great Jackie Robinsonis amazing.

-Thank you. Thank you.-Amazing.

So tonight, I wanted to talkabout baseball,

-'cause there's been a changein baseball -Huge.

o-over the past 20 years or so.

It may have started before this,especially with American, uh...

with American blackbaseball players.

Now, the number ofAmerican black players has gone

from about 20% at its peakin the early 1980s

to just about eight percenttoday.

That would have surprisedJackie Robinson,

uh, back in the day.Why do you think that is?

Well, I think I-I'll look at itas the glass is half full.

-Mm-hmm. -That there aremany more opportunities

for African-Americans,who dominate

the National Football Leagueand completely dominate the NBA.

-So... -Yeah, the avenuesto professional sports

-is... -Exactly. And let's alsoremember that Jackie Robinson,

when he broke the color line,broke it

-for all people of color,which meant -Mm-hmm.

that the Latin playerswho now, uh, dominate baseball

are also people of color.

And they didn't get inunless Jackie had gone

-through that door andsuffered all of that. -Right.

-So to... -They barnstormeda lot with those, uh,

-black players back then, too,right? -They did. In fact,

that's why the president,you know, took, uh,

-some ball players out to-- andMrs. Robinson-- -That's right.

-to Cuba when he visited there.-Yeah.

-Uh, Mike, do you have a sense?-Follow me on this one.


I blame Michael Jordan.


Michael Jordan cameinto the league in 1984, right?

-Yeah. -Black, uh, participationin baseball

started declining in the '80s.

-It was at its highest in the'80s. -Oh, that's interesting.

And as Michael Jackson...Michael Jordan came in,

that's when it startedgoing down.

It might have beenMichael Jackson, too.

It might have been him, too.

But I'm-a gowith Michael Jordan.

And then-- think about it--after he tried to play baseball

-in '94 and he stunk,-Wow.

black kids was like,"Well, (bleep),

if Michael Jordan can't play,I'm not playing."

-Right, right.-This is the first time...

-A Yard conspiracy I'm startingto believe! -Yeah.

Holly, d-do you feel like thegame is too elitist right now?

It's very expensivefor kids to play.

It's incredibly expensive.It's-it's incredibly expensive,

-because a lot of kids haveto go to travel ball. -Right.

Um, and so I thinkit's expensive

to get into travel ball. It'sexpensive to go to the games.

And it's really expensiveto drink those ten, 15 beers

that I drink every timeI go to the game.

So it's incredibly expensive.Yeah, yeah.

Yeah, it is. It's-it'spretty pricey to play baseball.

But, come on, I mean,kids in the Dominican Republic

play baseball with milk cartonson their hands.

-So, I mean, it's not thatexpensive, I mean, -Exactly.

-to find an old milk carton.-Yeah, but here

in the United States, a lotof kids go through travel ball,

and you have to spend thousandsof dollars,

-not only in feesbut in transportation -Right.

and in, uh, hotel roomsin order to play those games.

And if some of those kidsgo missing, we have to put 'em

-on the milk cartons.-Exactly. Right.

-Exactly. -I don't thinkit's an elitist sport, though.

YARD: I don't think it's anelitist sport. I think anybody

-can play baseball.-WILMORE: But it used to be

-America's sport.-Yeah.

That's something that comesacross so clearly in yours.

Why do you...?

It's clearly not America's sportanymore, right?

Well, I still thinkit's the greatest game

-that's ever been invented.-(applause and cheering)

It's the only gamein which the defense has...

Got some baseball fans?Yeah. All right.

It's the only game in whichthe defense has the ball,

the only gamein which there's no...

-you know, team sport thatthere's no clock. -Right. Yes.

And it isn't the ballor the puck

or the whateverthat crosses the...

It's the man who crosses it.

-Yeah.-And that's...

It's a really great sportin that way, but...

It's a true team sport.

...when Jackie came up,

there was just it and maybecollege football buzzing around.

-Yeah. -And now we have allthese different competitions

which is okay, but it's still...there's nothing better than...

I love George Carlin's routineon baseball and football.

-Yeah, no. Well, there you go.-YARD: Yeah.

Where he said, the differenceis, in football, there's a down.

It's first down, second down.Baseball every... -YARD: Yeah.

BURNS: And you throw a bomb in ablitzkrieg to get

into the end zone. In baseball,just playing a part.

Everyone's up. I'm up.Are you up? Who's up?

-And the object is, come home.-WILMORE: To come home.

YARD: And here's a beautifulthing about baseball.

Anybody can play. You don't haveto fit any kind of physical...

-You know what I mean?-Yeah, you don't have to be

-seven feet tall, seven feetwide, or on skates. -Exactly.

-You can be... Yeah.-Come on. Yeah. Yeah.

-You can be short, fat, one arm.I mean... -Yeah. -Yeah.

No, and you got...Yeah, it's great.

-Look up Jim Abbott.-Yeah.

He threw a no-hitter with onearm in a professional sport.

-He did. -Have you ever seena one-armed NBA player?

-Yeah. -And let's remember.Let's turn that thing on.

-WILMORE: And he was badass.-That Michael Jordan,

who's arguablythe greatest basketball player

in the historyof the universe...

WILMORE (coughing):Magic Johnson.

-...couldn't hit...-(laughter) -WILMORE: I'm sorry.

I apologize.I apologize for that.

-(coughing): Steph Curry.-(laughter)

-Steph Curry.-Right? Right?

-Steph Curry. -WALKER:Lakers man till he dies.

No, but he couldn't hita buck-80 in baseball.

-WILMORE: Yeah, Yeah.-WALKER: Yeah, yeah.

That tells you that hitting,you know, a cow hide

coming at 100 miles an hour witha piece of turned northern ash

is still the hardest thing to doin sports. -WALKER: Yeah.

-It's really hard.-Yeah, but golf is even harder.

-And the ball's not movingat all, you know. -(laughter)

-So, different skill sets.-YARD: Yeah.

Yeah, but all those guyshave pretty good hands now.

WALKER: I love baseball,too, because...

WILMORE: What do you loveabout it the most?

Well, there's a ton of things,but whenever I played softball

-and play baseball now--well, softball now... -Mm-hmm.

Like, I have to turn offmy mind to everything else...

-WILMORE: Yeah.-...and focus on the game,

or I could be hit inthe forehead with a softball.

-WILMORE: Yes. Yes.-(laughter)

Like, I have to fo...And that has happened, so...


Do you think our attention spansare too, like...?

That's the problem, man.

We live in a Short Attention Span Theater world. You think?

-Yeah, yeah.-Yeah, I don't know.

YARD:You don't think so?

No, no, because everybody'ssaying, oh, well, MTV

or YouTube or something--we've eroded our attention.

-WILMORE: Right.-But people watch my stuff.

-It's, like, 18 hours, you know?-WILMORE: Mm-hmm. -(laughter)

-WILMORE: That's true.Guilty, guilty. -You know?

-(applause & cheering)-Right? And-and...

-Yeah, oh, absolutely.-WALKER: Yeah.

WILMORE: I watched itover and over, yeah.

We'll be right backright after this.

(applause and cheering)

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