updated 2/9/2004 12:45:21 PM ET 2004-02-09T17:45:21

Guests: Dee Dee Myers, Sheri Annis, Dana Priest, Pat O‘Brien, Tina Brown, Danny Goldberg, Kathleen Turner

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Tonight on HARDBALL, President Bush picks his panel to investigate intelligence failures on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. 

And frontrunner senator John Kerry stays ahead of the pack and captures a big endorsement. 

And the political fallout from Janet Jackson‘s Super Bowl wardrobe mis-function. 

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

I‘m Chris Matthews.  President Bush today named his commission to investigate intelligence failures surrounding Iraq‘s weapons programs. 


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Dr. Kay also stated that some prewar intelligence assessments by America and other nations about Iraq‘s weapons stockpiles have not been confirmed.  We are determined to figure out why. 

We‘re also determined to make sure that American intelligence is as accurate as possible for every challenge in the future.


MATTHEWS:  Democrats say any commission appointed solely by the president cannot be independent. 

Norah O‘Donnell is an MSNBC White House correspondent, Dee Dee Myers was White House press secretary to Bill Clinton; Sheri Annis is a Republican media analyst; and Dana Priest is a reporter for the “Washington Post.”

Let me go to Norah O‘Donnell at the White House to start this with. 

Norah, is the White House off track?  Why are they creating commissions?  Why is the president going on “MEET THE PRESS”?  This couldn‘t have been planned two weeks ago. 

NORAH O‘DONNELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Well, there is a sense within this White House and with the president‘s political campaign team that they need to retool their strategy. 

The Democrats have been out there for weeks pummeling this president.  The president has seen his poll ratings plummet to some of the lowest in his presidency, and so they feel that the president needs to go out there, make his case before the American people. 

And the president‘s advisers say that it was the president himself who suggested that he sit down for an hour-long interview with Tim Russert on “MEET THE PRESS” in order to make this case.  So that‘s what they want to do. 

They hope that perhaps this will give him that the boost he didn‘t get out of the State of the Union address. 

There are a lot of Republican political operatives in town, in Washington, who wonder whether this is a good strategy by the White House, because of course Russert is a tough questioner, and if a politician does not do well on the show it can severely hurt them. 

So this can be very high stakes for this interview that will be taped tomorrow morning, an hour long.  And of course it will range from issues about the economy to the war on terrorism to a whole host of issues. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Norah. 

Let me go to Dana Priest from the “Washington Post.”

You‘ve studied this president.  He doesn‘t like dealing with the press.  He doesn‘t like hanging out.  He doesn‘t like exposing himself to uncontrollable headlines.  It could be on his war record, whether he served or not honorable in the National Guard back in the early ‘70s.  It could be on gay marriage.  All of those unpleasant headlines. 

Why is he risking it?

DANA PRIEST, “WASHINGTON POST”:  Well, someone else is grabbing the headlines right now, so he may feel he doesn‘t have the choice. 

But in terms of headline making if you look at who he appointed to the commission, I doubt they‘re going to make headlines.  There‘s only one person on the commission with any experience in intelligence. 

That means all the rest are going to be on a steep learning curve. 


PRIEST:  That means that they could misjudge some things and, as we know McCain, he came out today and said, “I doubt the president—I cannot believe the president would have ever misused intelligence.” 

For the Democrats they think that slides half the issue already off the table. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s quackery (ph).  Let me ask you this.  Why would somebody believe people picked by the president if they don‘t believe the president? 

Forty-seven percent of the American people believe that there was a deliberate effort to lie about getting us into war.  Why would they think that this is any more truth telling?

PRIEST:  Well, for someone like McCain, he‘s known as a contrarian, so I think he has some credibility as a truth teller. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, but he‘s not supposed to talk until next March, after the election is five months old. 

PRIEST:  But you know, there‘s another panel that‘s going to come out before the commission, the Senate Intelligence Committee, and they‘re going to be very hard-hitting on the CIA.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the problem.  It seems to me in the last couple of weeks we have a problem. 

The president of the United States said we went to war to protect ourselves against weapons of mass destruction.  They can‘t find the weapons of mass destruction. 

Since that disclosure by David Kay, we‘ve had the following.  The vice president sticks to his guns and says there still may be an al Qaeda connection; there still may be weapons.  The same with Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense. 

So the hawks are still hawks.  They‘re still saying we were right, you were wrong. 

Then we‘ve got David Kay coming out saying, “You were all wrong.” 

Then we‘ve got George Tenet coming out the other day and saying, “I wasn‘t wrong, but I‘m not speaking for the vice president‘s office or anything else they had going on over there that got them into the war.  I‘m not answering for them.” 

So it looks to me like there‘s an intramural fight going on here, a cover your ass situation developing here, and the president saying, “It‘s not going to be my—I‘m not going to be the scapegoat.” 

Is that what he‘s doing?

PRIEST:  And for that reason I think what they all are begin to say is Saddam Hussein, whether he had the weapons or not today, he wanted the weapons.  He was going to go after and get the weapons.  That‘s what George Tenet said there was a consensus on. 

And I think they are moving the debate in that direction.  Even if he didn‘t have weapons of mass destruction, he was trying hard to get them.  And do you want to wait until he actually has them and can use them? 

That‘s going to be their strategy. 

MATTHEWS:  That will look good in history books: The United States attacked another country because it hoped to be powerful some day.  I mean, that would separate us—That would cause a war with every third world dictator we can think on the list. 

I‘m sure Idi Amin would have liked to have had big weapons to play with.  We didn‘t go to war with him.  Anyway, it‘s an old argument. 

Let me ask you—Let me ask you right now—let‘s go first to Sheri right now. 

Sheri, you‘ve worked with people like Arnold Schwarzenegger, you know.  Is this like Arnold Schwarzenegger saying, “I‘m going to create a commission to look into my messing around with women, my groping”?

It‘s not credible he picks the commission, is it?

SHERI ANNIS, REPUBLICAN MEDIA STRATEGIST:  Well, it‘s credible because he basically wants to say. “I‘m going to be able to talk about this no matter what.  I‘m going to—I‘m taking charge here.” 

He doesn‘t want to say, “I‘m leaving this to someone else.”  He wants to show he‘s leading this.  Now...

MATTHEWS:  Leading what?  The cover up?

ANNIS:  He will describe it obviously as not a cover up.  If McCain gives him a lot of cover.  That‘s his—I think McCain is actually most of his cover.  Even though he‘s Republican. 

MATTHEWS:  But isn‘t the usual way to pick a bipartisan commission is to let the other party pick their share of the commission?  That‘s how it becomes bipartisan. 

ANNIS:  That‘s how—But with McCain there, it‘s seemingly bipartisan. 

MATTHEWS:  But he‘s a Republican. 

ANNIS:  But he‘s not a real Republican.  The Republicans don‘t like him in the party.  The conservative Republicans don‘t like him. 

MATTHEWS:  But he‘s probably the biggest hawk in Washington. 

ANNIS:  He is and so he has credibility. 

MATTHEWS:  And he was supported by the “Weekly Standard,” by Bill Kristol, (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  All the neo-cons love him.  How is he any different than making what Lieberman head—could put him on the commission or putting any of the super hawks?  Why don‘t they make Richard Perle head of the commission?

ANNIS:  He has spent several years in a POW Camp. 

MATTHEWS:  Not on this—No, no, that does not—that says to his integrity—speaks to his integrity and his loyalty, but it certainly doesn‘t take him from being the biggest hawk in town. 

ANNIS:  But it also says that he wouldn‘t want kids going over there if there weren‘t a reason to.  He knows what the risks are. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Dee Dee Myers, let‘s talk about the risk of sitting down with Tim Russert for an hour. 

It seems to me it‘s impossible for even a president to control the headlines.  How does he know the headline won‘t be “Bush defends guard performance” or guard service?

DEE DEE MYERS, FORMER CLINTON PRESS SECRETARY:  They don‘t know that the headline won‘t be something that they don‘t want.  I think a couple of things. 

The reason they‘re doing this is probably twofold: One, the president feels that he‘s getting the stuffing beat out of him and no one is doing enough to defend him, so he‘s going to take matters into his own hand.  And speaking from experience, that‘s a dangerous place to end up. 

And I think the strategists at the White House find themselves in a universe that‘s totally different than they expected in all their planning up to this point.  And they haven‘t quite retooled, so they‘re sort of betwixt and between.  And into that vacuum falls the president‘s idea to go on “MEET THE PRESS.”

I suspect he‘ll come loaded with something.  It may be the president saying he‘s for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, which would try to capture the headlines. 

But this is a high-wire act. 

MATTHEWS:  That would do it.

MYERS:  Yes, well, it depends on what else he says, though, Chris.  I mean, even...

MATTHEWS:  Why does he—Dee Dee, why does he need a risky hour with Tim Russert to put out a press release?

MYERS:  Well, he doesn‘t.  That‘s what I‘m saying.  There‘s two dynamics at work that I see.  One is the president saying, you know, “Darn it, no one‘s defending me now.”  I remember being on the receiving end of that from time to time.  “No one is defending me; I‘m going to go out there.” 

They‘re trying to do something to shake up the game a little, to change the dynamic and to grab the offensive back and put John Kerry and the Democrats on the defensive. 

MATTHEWS:  I just thought of Cheney out there on “MEET THE PRESS” 10 times, and I don‘t think it‘s done him any good.

ANNIS:  Remember, originally Bush thought that he would have a very different candidate.  They thought that they were going to clean Dean‘s clock. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re right.  So all the canons were aimed at Howard Dean, the hawk and dove. 

ANNIS:  Exactly.  The presidential campaign officially begins Sunday morning. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  If I were the president and I haven‘t given that State of the Union address that didn‘t work, the same guys that put that together for me are now saying go on “MEET THE PRESS.”  I‘d say, “Got any good ideas?”

Coming up, the panel is coming back with more on the president‘s big interview this weekend on “MEET THE PRESS.” 

And later, Dick Gephardt explains why he‘s endorsing John Kerry for the presidency.  It‘s got nothing to do with the vice presidency.  I‘ll bet.

Plus, Janet Jackson‘s racy Super Bowl show, will that help keep indecency off the airwaves.  Pat O‘Brien, Tina Brown and music executive Danny Goldberg will be here.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Coming up, President Bush‘s big interview this weekend on “MEET THE PRESS.”  Why is he coming out now?  HARDBALL, back in a minute.


MATTHEWS:  I‘m back with Norah O‘Donnell, Sheri Annis, Dana Priest, and Dee Dee Myers. 

Norah, let me ask you about the people around the president advising him on his public relations. 

They didn‘t score well with the State of the Union.  Is this a second attempt to achieve what they normally do get out of the State of the Union, a boost?

O‘DONNELL:  It is partially that, you could say.  I mean, normally presidents do get a boost after the State of the Union address.  This president did not.  He is suffering in the poll ratings.

And they want to come out.  They want to deliver a forceful message. 

And what‘s interesting is sort of how the dynamic, I think, has changed in the last two weeks here at the White House and the president‘s campaign team. 

They‘ve said all along they‘re not going to be reactive.  They‘re not going to be buffeted by the waves of the Democratic Party.

And clearly now they‘ve been on the defensive.  They are sort of off kilter a little bit.  The president has made several about-faces. 

First he said he would oppose an extension for the 9/11 commission, then he granted it.  First he said he would oppose an independent investigation on the WMD intelligence failures.  Then he‘s for it. 

So there have been a lot of shifts back and forth, and it appears that the communications team as well as the policy team has been off kilter.  And now they‘re doing that retooling, regaining, deciding what to do. 

The plan had been to launch an air war with that $170 million in March, perhaps April.  Now there‘s discussion about whether the Republican National Committee could come up on the air sooner, launch those tough attacks, because there‘s talk around town in Washington, “Don‘t let this go too long.  We don‘t want our poll numbers to dip any lower.  We‘ve got to punch back.  We‘ve got to fight hard.”

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask Dana, why didn‘t they tell the vice president they‘re going to put this commission together?

PRIEST:  Why didn‘t they?

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  I mean, he runs the paper flow on all these kinds of intelligence questions.  He may well be the target of this.  His guys think over in the Defense Department that William Luti operation over there, that Office of Special Plans—I just love that.

Is he the target of this investigation?  Is that why he wasn‘t told about it?

PRIEST:  Perhaps, but I also think he is so clear cut in his thinking on this, as you saw him reiterate the link between Iraq and al Qaeda, even though...

MATTHEWS:  You‘re talking about Cheney.

PRIEST:  I‘m talking about Cheney—even after the president stepped up and said, “We have no evidence of that.”

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  What is this—what is this?

PRIEST:  He went on and said that again. 

MATTHEWS:  When is this going to turn into something real?  Is there any chance the president is going to say, “I‘m tired of you, Cheney.  You‘re pushing this hawk line that‘s killing me out there, and I‘m tired of it”? 

PRIEST:  Well, maybe it is already.  But I have to repeat that the commission is not a bulldog commission. 

MATTHEWS:  They‘re pro...

PRIEST:  It is not made up of bulldogs, and it‘s so far away that it‘s going to just kick the can down the road.  Other things will come up, including the issue of what are you doing about terrorism, which I think he might address tomorrow.

MATTHEWS:  Let me make your bets here.  Sheri, you‘re an expert at public relations and political questions.  Will the headlines Monday morning be favorable to the president or not favorable?

ANNIS:  It will be favorable, because they will say Bush knew how to fight back.  He‘s no longer above the fray in the very presidential way, because he‘s entering the campaign, but will show that he‘s not going to sit there like a lapdog and take what‘s thrown at him. 

Tenet is talking about this; Kay is talking about this.  He wants to get in front of this.  He‘s on White House turf, which helps a lot.  It makes it much more favorable toward him.  I think it will be positive. 

Listen, the fact is if he does a great job, if he shoots this out of the park, everyone is going to say this is a brilliant move.  If it doesn‘t go so well, they‘re going to say he took a risk that was unnecessary. 

But he‘s not a cowering type, and I think Russert is going to give him the dignity that‘s necessary.  If...

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Go ahead, Norah. 

O‘DONNELL:  What‘s important is the president does occasionally take questions from us reporters.  But Tim presents, you know, what the people said before and what they present now. 

I think one of the most important things is going to be the tone.  The tone that the president responds to some of these questions.  He does not like to be challenged.  He does not like to be questioned.  Certainly on why he went to war.  So the president‘s tone in responding I think will be something that people are watching very closely. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you, Dee Dee.

Thank you, Norah.

Thank you, Dana.

Thank you, Sheri. 

Up next, HARDBALL‘s David Shuster talks to former Democratic presidential candidate Dick Gephardt about his endorsement—his new endorsement of John Kerry. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  It‘s one day before the biggest delegate contest yet in the battle for the White House.  Tomorrow Michigan and Washington state both hold caucuses, and today Democratic frontrunner John Kerry picked up a key endorsement from a former rival. 

HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster joins us from Michigan—David. 

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Chris, it was just a couple of weeks ago when Congressman Dick Gephardt finished in fourth place in the Iowa caucuses and ended his presidential campaign the next day. 

At the time, Gephardt said he would not be making any endorsements, but there he was today standing next to Massachusetts Senator John Kerry in Warren, Michigan. 

The two men stood in front of about 200 members of some local unions.  And Gephardt said he had learned a lot about John Kerry during this campaign. 

The match is somewhat awkward when it comes to policy positions.  During the campaign there were vast differences between these two on NAFTA, the scope of health care coverage, even how much of the Bush tax cuts Democrats should try to roll back. 

We talked about all of this with congressman Gephardt earlier today. 


SHUSTER:  Congressman Dick Gephardt, today you endorsed John Kerry here in Michigan.  Why here and why now?

REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, it seemed like an appropriate time.  I really stepped back after getting out of the campaign and looked at it all. 

We‘ve got great candidates, and they‘re all worthy.  But I came to the conclusion John was the best equipped, the best able to not only win the nomination but take on and defeat George Bush, and that‘s the task we have to achieve. 

SHUSTER:  In your campaign you talked a lot about manufacturing jobs that have been lost because of NAFTA, and yet John Kerry supported NAFTA.  How do you reconcile that difference?

GEPHARDT:  Well, in all the debates, all of the discussions we‘ve had over the past year, it became clear that John and all the other Democrats have really moved to the position that I‘ve held for a number of years.  And that is that we‘ve got to get labor and environmental provisions in the core text of these kind of treaties. 

And I‘m fully convinced that when John is president he will get these treaties to reflect the need to bring up standards in these other countries, as we level the playing field for our manufacturers here. 

SHUSTER:  But it‘s not going to be the same priority—at least to those of us covering the campaigns it won‘t be the same priority that you have with that. 

GEPHARDT:  I think it will be.  I think John is well aware that we‘ve lost thousands and thousands of jobs here in the Midwest, in states like Michigan, my state of Missouri and others, and that we‘ve got to have a new trade policy. 

And that we‘ve really described that at the end of the Clinton administration with the U.S.-Jordan treaty.  We can use that as a model to now get in other treaties as we go forward. 

SHUSTER:  What about on the tax cuts?  You would have rolled back all the president‘s tax cuts for universal health care coverage.  John Kerry‘s proposal on health care coverage, far more modest, and he would keep the tax cut for the middle class. 

That‘s a pretty big difference, isn‘t it?

GEPHARDT:  Well, I‘ve worked for all those tax cuts for the middle class: the child credit, the marriage penalty, getting rid of that.  So this is not a huge disagreement. 

I‘m sure that he can work out a budget when he‘s president that reflects the need for middle class tax cuts but also get the revenue together to get everybody covered with health care insurance. 

There‘s no one perfect way to do this.  And I‘m sure when it‘s all worked through, we will get both goals to be achieved. 

SHUSTER:  During the campaign you had suggested that people who aren‘t willing to roll back more of the tax cuts wouldn‘t be able to afford things like universal coverage or covering all children. 

How can John Kerry do it, if he hasn‘t really changed anything?

GEPHARDT:  Well, again, you‘ve got to find a way through it all.  I think there are ways to do it. 

You know, I said that I would like, after I got health care done, to find the closing of loopholes for corporations to afford to bring back the marriage penalty and to do something about the child credit. 

So there are ways to do it.  You‘ve just got to work your way back through it.  I‘m sure John will be able to do that with the Congress at that time. 

SHUSTER:  You talked today about special interests.  John Kerry is the one who can take on the special interests.  And yet, over the last 15 years he took more special interest money than any other member of the U.S.  Senate. 

How do you deal with that?

GEPHARDT:  Well, I think the important thing is not did you take any special interest money.  The question is did you fight the special interests on the issues? 

And John has a good record on all of that.  He has taken on a lot of special interests in his time in the Congress.  He‘s done it on education.  He‘s done it on the environment.  He‘s done it on health care.  He‘s done it on prescription drugs.

And so I don‘t think his vote or his stance has ever been affected in any way by any campaign contribution that he‘s gotten.  And he‘s also refused PAC money, which a number of others have not done, which I think has made it easier for him to take that position. 

SHUSTER:  Regarding your own campaign, do you regret how hard you went after Howard Dean back before the Iowa caucuses, given that a lot of people held those attacks against you and said that was one of the reasons you didn‘t do as well as you thought you might?

GEPHARDT:  Look, I never wanted to get into the kind of negativity that went on finally.  Howard ran a negative ad about my vote on the war back in November.  We didn‘t respond at all.  I wanted to keep it on a more positive plain.  That didn‘t happen. 

But that‘s water over the dam.  That‘s how it worked going out West. 

But we did have a discussion of differences on issues, and we had some important differences on issues.  That‘s what campaigns are also about.  And you need to do that.  Voters want to know those differences, and that‘s the way it came out. 

SHUSTER:  Finally regarding John Kerry, did he say anything about a role you might play in this campaign or did he offer you any potential slot in an administration, or did you talk about possibly being on the ticket?

GEPHARDT:  No, that‘s totally inappropriate. 

SHUSTER:  Why is it inappropriate?  I mean, here you are endorsing him in the powerful state of Michigan. 

GEPHARDT:  I‘m out here endorsing him because I think he has the best chance to beat George Bush and I hope that he will do that.  And I‘ll help him in any way I can to do that. 

As I said in my statement today, this is not about me.  It‘s not about any other candidate.  It‘s about the American people, and it‘s about our future.  And we‘ve got to change the leadership in the White House.  That‘s what I‘m bound and determined to do, and I‘ll do everything I can to help make that happen. 

SHUSTER:  Congressman Dick Gephardt, thank you very much for joining us today on HARDBALL.  We appreciate it.  Thank you. 


SHUSTER:  The Gephardt endorsement ought to help John Kerry simply lock up the state of Michigan, where polls show that going into the caucuses tomorrow he has a very, very strong lead.

And it comes, Chris, on a day when you have John Edwards and Howard—when you have John Edwards and Wesley Clark fighting over what Edwards may have done with veterans‘ benefits in Tennessee and Virginia, and on a day when Howard Dean is spending all of his time in Wisconsin now trying to get that state in good shape for him, where polls show him trailing badly in Wisconsin as well—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  David, do you think Gephardt would be tough enough in a debate with Dick Cheney or he‘d be weak, you know, and ineffectual the way that Lieberman was in that debate last time around?

You know, I don‘t mean to knock Lieberman, but he didn‘t really stand up to him and challenge him, and knock him down.  This time around they‘re on the defensive. 

Don‘t you need a vice presidential running mate, if you‘re Democrat, that‘s going to go in there and really stand toe to toe, not sit down like you‘re in a club with a guy, but go toe to toe with the V.P. to win this general election?

SHUSTER:  Well, Chris, the Kerry campaign believes Gephardt would be able to do that.  But more importantly, they‘re looking at Missouri, which Democrats lost last time around.  They need Missouri.  They think that Gephardt would be able to deliver Missouri if, if, Gephardt is on the ticket.  But that‘s a long way to come. 

MATTHEWS:  And if he‘s toughs enough.  Anyway, thank you, David Shuster. 

Up next, more fallout over Janet Jackson‘s wardrobe malfunction as Congress gets ready to hold hearings on obscenity.  We‘ll talk about it with music executive Danny Goldberg, Tina Brown and Pat O‘Brien of “ACCESS HOLLYWOOD.”

And later, actress and activist Kathleen Turner‘s coming here to talk politics.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  This half-hour on HARDBALL, Pat O‘Brien, Tina Brown and music executive Danny Goldberg on Janet Jackson, indecency over the airwaves, and what Congress can do about it.  Plus, actress and activist Kathleen Turner will be here. 

But, first, the latest headlines right now. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Janet Jackson, of course, shocked Super Bowl viewers Sunday when she overexposed herself during a performance with Justin Timberlake during their halftime performance. 

Joining us now to talk about the cultural and political fallout is Danny Goldberg, chairman of Artemis Records, Tina Brown, host of CNBC‘s “Topic A With Tina Brown,” which airs this Sunday, and Pat O‘Brien, co-host of “Access Hollywood.”

Pat, you got to Timberlake immediately after the performance.  Let‘s take a look at what he told you then. 


PAT O‘BRIEN, CO-HOST, “ACCESS HOLLYWOOD”:  Congratulations.  What was it like? 

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, SINGER:  That was fun.  It was quick, slick, to the point and—and, no, I enjoyed it.  It was a lot of fun. 

O‘BRIEN:  You guys were getting pretty hot and steamy up there. 

TIMBERLAKE:  Hey, man, we love giving you all something to talk about. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, Pat, that doesn‘t sound like a screeching confession of any kind.  And, clearly, he seemed pretty happy with creating the buzz there. 


MATTHEWS:  Is this whole thing since sort of a reaction to that, not a sort of spontaneous attitude of the industry? 

O‘BRIEN:  Right. 

That interview was done about a minute and a half after it ended.  And I‘m convinced, at that point, he knew they had done a sexy dance.  He knew they were bumping and grinding and all of that.  I‘m not sure he knew that that breast had been exposed as it was at that point, because I don‘t think he would have said it that way and laughed about it.  And he has since apologized for it and everything. 

But, at that moment there, I don‘t think he knew what had really happened.  He knew they had done a sexy dance and all that sort of thing.


O‘BRIEN:  But the point is that the bar—go ahead. 

MATTHEWS:  You live in that industry out there.  You cover it, but you also live among it.  What was your personal reaction watching that live at the Super Bowl?

O‘BRIEN:  Well, it‘s—it‘s—you‘ve got to pick your spots.  And

Janet Jackson is a very nice young lady and Justin Timberlake is a great

guy.  But you‘ve got to pick—the Super Bowl, I don‘t think, on a Sunday

·         early Sunday evening, when entire families are watching, is not a place to do that.  And they‘ve all apologized. 

But, you know, the bar has been raised so high on these things.  You look back 10 years ago at the Super Bowl, you had Michael Jackson doing a dance where he grabbed his crotch and all that.  You had Nelly and P. Diddy there.  And that‘s all part of their art.  And the NFL should have known that going in.  That‘s what they do.  That‘s why they‘re popular.  That‘s why their records sell.  That‘s what artists do. 

I‘m not defending the indecent exposure, but that‘s what artist do out there.  And I think with that and with the Osbournes using the F-word every five seconds, that has raised the bar.  “The Sopranos” has raised the bar.  Cable television, all these shows, has raised the bar.  And, you know, I think this is a great national discussion.  Maybe it is time to pull back a little bit.  I know, on our show, we‘re pulling back a little bit. 

MATTHEWS:  Really? 

Well, let me right now go to Tina Brown.  The buzz on this has been rich.  This has taken Janet—or rather, Janet—what‘s her name? --

Janet Jackson—out from being Michael‘s sister to being this woman, the showstopper.  It‘s helped her career, obviously.  It got her away from the perv problem. 

TINA BROWN, HOST, “TOPIC A”:  Yes, I tend to think that the biggest mistake that MTV made—and maybe Janet, too—was that they didn‘t say that she was promoting breast cancer awareness, actually. 


MATTHEWS:  What do you mean? 

BROWN:  Well, she could have draped herself in a social cause, but, instead, of which, she has got all this flak that‘s only helped her career. 


MATTHEWS:  What was your reaction watching it?  Or did you watch the Super Bowl? 

BROWN:  Yes, I did watch it.  I watched the tape afterwards, when there was all the flak about it. 

I guess what bores me really right now is this endless pathetic attempt of so-called artists to say that they are—quote—“pushing the envelope” with this kind of flatulent, devoid-of-ideas exhibitionism.  You know, this isn‘t pushing the envelope.  There is no envelope to push.  Everyone has shown everything, done everything, taken their clothes off, waved them around, dressed in rhinestones.  It‘s such a bore. 

The truth is, it‘s all taken away from the fact that, really, the music hasn‘t been that good recently and there‘s been very little in the way of new discoveries in music.  It‘s all about, how can you create the indelible moment?  And the indelible moment is becoming just a blight on our culture. 

MATTHEWS:  Interesting. 


MATTHEWS:  Danny Goldberg, you‘re in the industry.  What is the reaction—what was your reaction watching it personally on Super Bowl day? 

DANNY GOLDBERG, ARTEMIS RECORDS:  Well, I watched with my 10-year-old son, Max (ph).  And I was so horrified by the Cialis commercials and trying to explain what erectile dysfunction was that I barely—and the beer commercials—that I really didn‘t notice the flash that went by. 

I think that Janet Jackson did something wrong, but it‘s a minor tasteless moment.  And the fact that we‘re still talking about it five days later boggles my mind. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me ask you this.  Do you think the industry should do something about this? 

GOLDBERG:  Which industry do you mean? 

MATTHEWS:  Record. 

GOLDBERG:  Well, the record company, every record company has

different artists and each artist does different thing.  I don‘t think that

·         I think the Super Bowl is a different situation, because you have got the perception that it is a family event, although, as I said, I think that‘s been terribly degraded by the commercials. 

But it is wrong when people expect one thing and get another.  But, in general, I think the music industry provides music that inspires people, that people like.  Not everybody likes it, but I think there‘s a lot of good music.  The OutKast album, which is probably going to win a lot of Grammys, is one of the best albums ever made.  I had nothing to do with it.  But to say the music is not good today is just ridiculous. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think?


MATTHEWS:  Go ahead, Tina.

BROWN:  I don‘t mean that the music isn‘t good.  There is a lot of terrific music around.  Of course there is. 

It‘s just that I do feel there is far too much emphasis on trying to create the indelible moment.  And I do think that, actually, that fans would be enjoying the music without having to have quite so much sort of self-conscious display and overemphasis on the obscenity stuff.  It just seems to me, it‘s almost as if they‘re doing it purely for the cable TV buzz and the press pickup and that it is in fact—in fact distracting from the art, as opposed to enhancing the art. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, everybody, Danny and Tina, and I want to go back to Pat, too.

Pat, you know, there were some moments in American sort of pop culture history that really seemed to matter.  I remember when Charlton Heston sent up that I guess he was a phony American Indian to receive his award for him back 20 years ago. 

O‘BRIEN:  Marlon Brando.

MATTHEWS:  Right, Marlon Brando. 

O‘BRIEN:  Marlon Brando, yes.

MATTHEWS:  And then Paddy Chayefsky gave that great retort where he said, can‘t we just have an awards ceremony and call it on the ludicrous politics?  And everybody applauded. 

Is there going to be that kind of reaction this time, where people say, that was just about the end of that crap and we‘re going to go the other way for a while? 

O‘BRIEN:  Well, I‘ll tell you what the reaction is going to be, is nothing is going to be live anymore. 

Everything is going to have a two-minute delay, a five-minute delay, a 10-second delay, a seven-second delay, a 10-minute delay.  Nothing ever again for the time being will be live again.  And I think that‘s kind of ruined television for the American people who like live events.  That‘s what‘s—that‘s what watching live TV is about, quite honestly.  It‘s the live event. 


MATTHEWS:  Suppose—suppose—suppose some guy or woman is sitting there and their job depends on knowing when to push that button and when not to push that five-minute button.  Suppose you were watching the Super Bowl or somebody was watching the Super Bowl right now, the halftime show, and it comes out with the rest of the raunch, not Janet‘s little number, but the rest of the raunch, the bikini butts and the basically booty shaking and everything, and they said, I don‘t like that. 

Who is going to make those decisions at that point? 


O‘BRIEN:  And I agree with you.  And Danny brought up a good point, too.  Maybe there‘s someone who doesn‘t like the Viagra commercials or the erectile dysfunction commercials, instead of the wardrobe dysfunction.



GOLDBERG:  What‘s wrong with the free marketplace?  What‘s wrong with the public voting by...

MATTHEWS:  Because it‘s not the marketplace. 

GOLDBERG:  Sure there is.  There‘s 20, 30 different channels on.  And

people watch


MATTHEWS:  No, no, no, that‘s—let me just ask you this.  Do you think the public—do you think public...


MATTHEWS:  Do you think all these football stadiums are paid for by the marketplace?  Do you think the NFL depends on the free market? 

GOLDBERG:  Sure they do.  They depend on people...

MATTHEWS:  They do? 

GOLDBERG:  They depend on people watching it on TV, which provides advertising revenue.


MATTHEWS:  No, no, who pays for all these stadiums?  Who is building all these stadiums?


MATTHEWS:  No, no, it‘s not true.  They are publicly financed with all the stadiums they get, the bond issues.  There‘s a tremendous amount of public support for all professional football.  It‘s not just sitting out there one company—one music company competing with another.  You understand that. 

This isn‘t just like private enterprise.  It‘s publicly invested in, isn‘t it? 

BROWN:  In some ways, isn‘t this about the revenge of synergy? 

I mean, the only reason that MTV was there in the Super Bowl was because Viacom, the parent company, owns both CBS and MTV, so MTV were given the show.  You know, I don‘t think that, in the end, that many people were really that outraged by it more than a second‘s worth of outrage.

MATTHEWS:  There were 200,000 phone calls to the FCC.


BROWN:  Right.  But, at the same time, I think the ongoing controversy

is really something that has all been hyped up by the heat of cable talk

shows and the heat of the press wanting another lip flap, another crazy 


MATTHEWS:  What does the public—what does the public demand—what does the public demand the FCC do?  What does Les Moonves do?  What do the people whose job depends on keeping their sponsors happy do?  I want to know what‘s going to happen here.  Is it going to be, so what, we‘re going to move on? 


MATTHEWS:  Or it‘s going to be a change?

BROWN:  I think it will be interesting to know whose head rolls.  It feels to me that there‘s a kind of feeling brewing up that somebody‘s head has to roll.  And we saw in “The Wall Street Journal” calling for the resignation of Judy McGrath at MTV.  So it seems to me that maybe poor Judy McGrath, who has done a fabulous job at MTV, will wind up having been the sacrificial lamb. 

O‘BRIEN:  We‘ve been building...


O‘BRIEN:  I can yell louder than you, Chris.  we‘ve been building to this moment for a long time and nobody put a stop to it.  And so that‘s the bottom line.

GOLDBERG:  Chris, I don‘t understand.

O‘BRIEN:  There are decency hearings next week in Washington, D.C.

GOLDBERG:  Why is 200,000 people in a country of 250 million people that meaningful?  That‘s less than 1 percent of the people. 

MATTHEWS:  Because all this industry is based on percentages.  And when a certain percentage of the people write in...

GOLDBERG:  It‘s less than 1 percent.

MATTHEWS:  No, no, I went through this argument today with people.  That suggests there are 50 people behind every one of them.  That‘s the way they make decisions on television.

We‘re coming back with Danny Goldberg, Tina O‘Brien—Tina Brown --  pat O‘Brien.

And later, actress and activist Kathleen Turner is going to here to talk about President Bush and the battle for the White House. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL. 

ANNOUNCER:  Follow all the action in the battle for the White House.  Just sign up for the best political briefing around.  Log on to our newly redesigned Web site at HARDBALL.MSNBC.com.


MATTHEWS:  Coming up, more on the Janet Jackson indecency flap.  Plus, actress Kathleen Turner will be here.

HARDBALL back in a minute.


MATTHEWS:   We‘re back with Danny Goldberg, Tina Brown, and Pat O‘Brien. 

Danny, you act like this can be just passed over.  If that‘s the thought process going on in the industry, how come the FCC is going after CBS?  How—the Congress is going after the FCC.  Tom Freston is going after the artists in this case.  And Judy McGrath is being talked about as the scapegoat here. 

If there‘s nothing gone wrong here, why are we looking for a scapegoat? 


MATTHEWS:  And I‘m not looking for it.  The industry is. 

GOLDBERG:  First of all, the artist did something wrong.  She misled MTV.  She fooled them and she did something inappropriate.  There‘s no question about that.

But politicians like headlines.  Talking about celebrities gives them headlines.  But, in the long run, the American public has taste that is not defined by the 200,000 shrillest voices in the country, but by tens of millions of people who like—who like all kinds of entertainment, which includes things that are sexy. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think the country liked this? 

GOLDBERG:  There‘s more than one country.  There‘s a dozen different


MATTHEWS:  No, a majority.  Give me a stat on this.  What percent liked this and what percent didn‘t like it? 


GOLDBERG:  Well, it‘s the most downloaded—it‘s the most downloaded thing in the history of the Internet.  It‘s the most copied thing in the history of TiVo.  Obviously, a lot of people liked it and a lot of people didn‘t like it. 

I think it was wrong to do it on the Super Bowl.  I also didn‘t like the Cialis ads.  But I think it‘s ridiculous to think that there‘s some huge uprising in the country about sexy entertainment.  Most people like sexy entertainment.


MATTHEWS:  So you think we‘re going to on this—bottom line, we‘re continuing on this trend to try to push the envelope?  You think that‘s where we‘re headed? 

GOLDBERG:  I think we are where we are.

I think entertainment my whole life has involved sexuality.  And some people like it and some don‘t like it.  I think she did the wrong thing, but I don‘t think this is any big sea change in anything. 


MATTHEWS:  OK, Tina, I want to ask you about the buzz on this.  The buzz succeeded for Janet Jackson, didn‘t it?  She won.

BROWN:  Yes, Janet Jackson absolutely did win the buzz, although I think it‘s turning a little bit to the point that I think she is also damaged a little bit by it.

But, no, I think it‘s definitely hyped her record sales.  She‘s 36 and things weren‘t going so great.  And now she‘s on the front pages. 


MATTHEWS:  What‘s to stop another desperate artist to try the same thing, then? 

O‘BRIEN:  Tape delay.

BROWN:  I think we‘re going to see a lot of desperate artists every day doing the same thing.  It happens every time.  We‘ve been through the Paris Hilton festival of cheese that... 


MATTHEWS:  I know it.  Well, you‘re an expert on buzz.  You should write a book called “Buzz,” because I don‘t quite get it.  But, obviously, these things have become what we talk about.  And you can‘t stop it.  

Let me go to Pat O‘Brien. 

You‘re watching the industry from the inside.  You‘re watching it as a person, a human being, a good guy.  Is this—is this one of those moments like the Black Sox, when we had crooked baseball, so they cleaned it up?  Is this one of the things where something is going to change or is it not going to change? 

O‘BRIEN:  Well, no, let‘s put it in perspective, too, because if it weren‘t for TiVo and the Internet, a lot of people would not have seen this.  It went by like that, OK?

So, the buzz got out.  And I think the buzz has become bigger than the event.  I disagree with what she did.  I thought it was indecent exposure.  It shouldn‘t have happened.  But where are our priorities here?  We‘re talking about this for five days, when there‘s—we should be talking about how to protect our teenagers and our kids from being kidnapped.  We should be talking about maybe the war in Iraq or about John Kerry‘s march to the Democratic nomination. 

This is what the country—this is the buzz the country apparently loves to talk about.  We see it in our ratings. 


O‘BRIEN:  You see it in your ratings.  You told me yourself that Michael Jackson was the best—the best thing you could say on your show to get ratings sometimes. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, for a couple of weeks there.  But I got to tell you, I think...

O‘BRIEN:  That‘s what it‘s become.  It‘s become all about shock value and not about sex anymore. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, if you were to flash 150 million people, we‘d still be talking about it, too, Pat.  This is a flash.  Isn‘t that what it‘s about? 

O‘BRIEN:  Well, maybe that‘s a consideration on my part. 


MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Danny Goldberg.  Thank you, Tina Brown.  Thank you, Pat O‘Brien. 

Next up, actress and activist Kathleen Turner will be here. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Stage and screen actress Kathleen Turner is known for her legendary performances in “Body Heat,” “Prizzi‘s Honor,” “Peggy Sue Got Married,” and most recently for her portrayal of Mrs. Robinson in the stage version of “The Graduate.”

But this year, she‘s taking a leave of absence from acting to speak as an advocate for planned parenthood and keep the pro-choice platform in the spotlight during this election year. 

And, Kathleen, welcome.

KATHLEEN TURNER, ACTRESS:  Thank you.  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think it‘s going to—do you think that issue of abortion rights is going to be hot in this election or not? 

TURNER:  Well, you know, I don‘t think it‘s simply a question of abortion rights.  It‘s really a question of a woman‘s right to choose.  That is, to determine altogether what—how her body will be used and how her relationship with her doctor is to make her own choices about her entire physical health. 

And, we know, of course, that the next president who is elected will either support or possibly destroy women‘s choice.  So this year is extremely crucial to us. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you really believe that the—this president, the Republican president we have now, if he‘s given another four-year term, would overturn Roe v. Wade, or would find a way to do it through judicial appointment?

TURNER:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Would be able to do it?  How would he do it?

TURNER:  I think he could absolutely do it.  As we are now, in the Supreme Court, we have a 5-4 sort of edge on a lot of the—on women‘s choice issues, including the support for Roe vs. Wade.

But there will be another judge appointed within the next term.  And I think that, were it to be as conservative a choice as he has already shown himself to do, then we are in grave danger. 

MATTHEWS:  Of what happening?  What would actually happen if your worst—what would happen if Bush got a conservative in there to change the court—what would it actually do? 


TURNER:  If they were able to overturn Roe vs. Wade, then, partially, it‘s opening the door to a great deal of control of women and their lives. 

If you‘re unable to choose when to have a child or when to—or how to plan your family, then you‘re interfering with your ability to work, your ability to contribute. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

TURNER:  I think that the danger, too, is government interfering in a woman‘s life, which surprises me that the Republicans would want to have happen. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I would find it very hard to believe that this is going to happen, because, if you outlawed the right of a woman to have an abortion, particularly in the first and second trimester, it seems to me the Republican Party would be out of business for 20 years. 


MATTHEWS:  They would be out of business because they would be responsible for this. 


TURNER:  It would certainly affect the economy, wouldn‘t it?  It would certainly affect the economy.

MATTHEWS:  Well, I think they would be dead as a political party, because most people in this country are pro-choice. 

TURNER:  I think most people are pro-choice, extremely tolerant.  And we‘re a great many women. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, why would the Republicans want to ruin themselves? 

TURNER:  Well, because I think that the Republican Party right now is very much directed and run by very right-wing dialogues.  And I think that the religious factor here is more important to them.  It‘s kind of scary. 


Let me ask you about John Kerry. 


MATTHEWS:  John Kerry, the candidate.  I believe you‘re supporting John Kerry for the presidency. 


TURNER:  Yes, I‘ve been supporting him since November. 

MATTHEWS:  Why did you pick him? 

TURNER:  For many reasons. 

One, I think he truly is qualified.  I‘m very impressed with his credentials and with his mind, with his intelligence.  And another reason is his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, that I met her.  I met with them.  And I want a strong, vocal woman in the White House, someone to continue the tradition of a woman being a great, a real partner in the White House.  And I think she‘s wonderful to do that. 

MATTHEWS:  What about Elizabeth Edwards? 

TURNER:  I don‘t know as much about her, I must confess, but I don‘t have the same confidence. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think about a woman like Judy Steinberg, although he‘s a real long shot at this point, Howard Dean‘s wife, who basically made it clear to me on this program a week ago, when we were up in New Hampshire...


MATTHEWS:  ... that she‘s not going to participate as sort of a traditional first lady, even.  She‘s going to practice medicine.  That‘s what she‘s going to do with her time. 

TURNER:  Well, I don‘t see, truly, how that‘s possible.  I‘m not saying that one has to be a traditional woman‘s role, in that sense of sort of a company wife.  She should be able to have her own career.  But it would have to be, I think, in Washington.  And it would have to, in some way, include her duties as the wife of the president. 

MATTHEWS:  But she said that she won‘t get involved in policy whatever. 

TURNER:  Well, I think that she‘s missing a great opportunity and we‘re missing a good team, if that happens. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think the first lady should—you said you want to see a candidate for president whose wife would create—would have—be a real presence in the White House.

TURNER:  A real partner, a real partner, yes. 


MATTHEWS:  So that‘s the new paradigm, basically, Hillary Clinton? 

TURNER:  I would take it further.  I would say Teresa Heinz Kerry. 


Let me ask you about—about this debate.  What other issues do you think are the cultural issues in this country?  Do you think this issue—question of gay marriage, where are you on that? 

TURNER:  Well, honestly, I think that, under the Constitution, if we all have equal rights, truly, to representation, to property, to practice of religion, all of these things should cover every issue essentially. 

Our—the reason that America I think is so strong and has always been so attractive to the rest of the world, much—much before we became such a supreme world power, is simply because we do guarantee that kind of liberation, that kind of liberty to our citizens.  And I think that‘s an ideal that we have to uphold. 

MATTHEWS:  You mean, you think it‘s a constitutional right to get married if you‘re from the same sex? 

TURNER:  Yes, I suppose—yes, I do. 

MATTHEWS:  So, you don‘t think it should be a matter of action by the state legislatures or public—California had a recent vote, where people voted against it.  You don‘t think the public should be allowed to vote on this? 

TURNER:  No.  I don‘t think it should be an amendment.  No, I don‘t think it should be a vote. 


MATTHEWS:  No, should the public be allowed to vote on whether you have same-sex marriage or not?  Should it be a democratic issue or not?

TURNER:  Well, it depends on the state constitution, doesn‘t it, in the sense that it adheres to the Massachusetts Constitution as written by the state.  It would depend on how that was written. 

MATTHEWS:  But do you think the country itself should be allowed to vote state-by-state or make this decision state-by-state?  That‘s the John Kerry position, that every state decide state by state on this.

TURNER:  Well, as I said, I believe that depends on the state constitution, each one being individual. 

MATTHEWS:  So, in other words, the state constitution should be paramount here and not a federal constitutional question. 

TURNER:  Absolutely. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Well, you‘re consistent with Kerry.

And also, then, do you want—do you want civil marriage or civil union?  Or it doesn‘t matter to you? 


MATTHEWS:  He‘s against the Massachusetts ruling by the Massachusetts court supporting—requiring the state to write a law allowing people to get marriage licenses who are gay and are joining up together in a unity relationship.  Do you think he‘s right or the state of Massachusetts court is right? 

TURNER:  Well, I would have to go with the court, I suppose, because I think that we have—we have to depend on some—on some standard, on some universal agreement.  And if that is the court, then I will. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Yes, he‘s against the court decision.  He said so last night. 

Anyway, Kathleen Turner, thank you for joining us. 

TURNER:  And be aware of women‘s choice.  Please, stand up. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  OK.  Thank you. 

Tomorrow night, HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Michigan and Washington caucuses begins here.  And I‘ll be here at 7:00 Eastern.

Right now, it‘s time for the “COUNTDOWN” with Keith Olbermann.


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