updated 9/9/2014 7:02:58 AM ET 2014-09-09T11:02:58

September 8, 2014

Guest: Sen. Richard Blumenthal; Michelle Bernard; Jemele Hill; Rep. Jim
McDermott, Rep. Gregory Meeks, Dianna Russini, Deborah Norville


Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Here in an elevator, we see a man beating a woman to unconsciousness. We
see him drag her limp body across the elevator floor. For this, he was
fired today from his job, fired not because of the beating he`d given this
woman, but because you and I just got to see it.

And these are the facts in the National Football League today. Beat up a
woman, and you get a two-game suspension. Have the pictures get out, and
suddenly, the league takes action. And because of this -- and this is a
fact brought brutally and disgustingly to light in this picture -- it`s our
top story tonight.

Also in this edition of HARDBALL, President Obama will try this week to
sell his diminishing number of supporters on war in Iraq and Syria. Can he
do it? Can he get anti-war Democrats to bring (ph) drones attacks, air
strikes and special forces to destroy the Islamic State?

Two other stories tonight. A juror in the McDonnell verdict condemns all
politicians who do favors for their wealthy backers. And finally, Deborah
Norville joins us on what it was like to speak at yesterday`s funeral for
Joan Rivers.

But back to the big news tonight. Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice
was fired today and suspended indefinitely by the National Football League
after this morning`s release of this TMZ video showing Rice punching his
then fiancee, now his wife, and dragging her unconscious out of an Atlantic
City elevator. The Ravens announced the termination of Rice`s five-year,
$35 million contract shortly after 2:00 PM today. That was this afternoon.

Rice was charged with felony assault back in March, but his wife, Janay
Palmer, refused to testify. And this case became notorious when Rice got a
slap on the wrist, a two-game suspension, from the Baltimore Ravens and the
NFL. They cared more about Rice playing on the field than they did about
his violent behavior off it. It took getting this gruesome footage out
there today to pressure a professional football team to take serious action
against a serious crime.

Senator Richard Blumenthal is a Democrat from Connecticut who had called
for a tougher punishment before Rice before what happened today. And
Michelle Bernard is the president and CEO of the Bernard Center for Women,
Politics and Public Policy.

Senator Blumenthal, as a former attorney general of your state, give us
your sense of what criminality looks like. This picture looks like a
serious crime to me.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Looks very much like a serious
crime. It`s an assault, domestic violence. And you`re absolutely right
that the punishment was in no way adequate. I protested and complained
about it, and it took this gruesome footage to reach this result.
Shouldn`t have been necessary.

But it also shows how inadequate, how sadly deficient the NFL`s new policy
is. Roger Goodell has lacked the leadership to move directly to a lifetime
suspension if there is this kind of assault. If there had been even the
new policy, probably a six-game suspension would have been all that
(INAUDIBLE) would have been without this really gruesome video.

MATTHEWS: Michelle, your thoughts.

video over and over again, and I keep wondering how anyone in the NFL could
have watched that video and not known to throw him off of that --

MATTHEWS: Well, they got --


BERNARD: -- team immediately. But I have to believe that they saw it

We have a very serious problem in the country in that people do not take
domestic violence seriously. We have a Congress that earlier in the year
did not want to vote on the Violence Against Women Act. There`s this
belief that it really doesn`t happen. We have absolute evidence right here
when we look at this video that there are still people who pummel their
wives and others who think that there`s absolutely nothing wrong with it.

MATTHEWS: Well, this is -- not to go into calibrations of domestic
violence, but that was a heavyweight knockout punch --

BERNARD: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: -- of your girlfriend, of your fiancee, punching her like
you`re in a boxing match --

BERNARD: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: -- with everything you`ve got. And she`s out there, prone on
the floor, apparently out of -- out of conscious there.

Senator, you know the law. What is that? It`s worse than assault and
battery, I would guess. What would you call that in a regular criminal
case? If somebody just saw a stranger on an elevator and did that to them,
what would that be?

BLUMENTHAL: That`s definitely aggravated assault. It could come close to
an attempt at even more serious damage. But as pernicious and insidious as
that assault is the fact that Janay was then stage-managed to apologize for

That is really the antithesis of what is required in these situations,
blaming the victim, having her apologetic, and then the Ravens tweeted it
as exonerating Rice himself. So this kind of syndrome, the cycle of
violence, blaming the victim -- and so far as the law is concerned, that
would have landed Rice in prison, in my view. I would have prosecuted it
as an aggravated assault.

MATTHEWS: The Ravens organization and head coach John Harbaugh stood by
their star running back in May when Rice and his wife held this press
conference to apologize.


RAY PRICE, BALTIMORE RAVENS: I just want to first off apologize to, you
know, Steve Bisciotti, Ozzie Newsome and Coach Harbaugh, and also want to
apologize to my fans. I really treat my job as a very special job, and I
failed miserably. But I wouldn`t call myself a failure because I`m working
my way back up.

JANAY PALMER, RICE`S FIANCEE: I do deeply regret the role that I played in
the incident that night. But I can say that I am happy that we continue to
work through it together.


MATTHEWS: Jemele Hill joins us right now from ESPN. What do you make of
the two people there testifying? There you have the fiancee at the time,
now the wife, testifying, basically saying everything`s fine.

JEMELE HILL, ESPN: Yes, I mean, I think it speaks to the level of
ignorance, how tone deaf the NFL, the Baltimore Ravens, how they were with
this entire issue. Anybody who I would like to think has just a cursory
knowledge of the complicated dynamics of domestic violence would understand
the optics of having the woman who was victimized standing next to her
batterer and apologizing for her role.

I mean, what was her role, that her fist hit his -- that her face hit his
fist? That was her role in that, and certainly, that has been supported by
the video.

And so I think you had a collection of willful ignorance by the Ravens, by
the NFL, that have led to this public relations blowup and nightmare. And
that`s why it`s difficult for me today to give the Ravens any sort of
credit for terminating Ray Rice`s contract, when this was clearly a
situation that they didn`t understand from the very beginning.

MATTHEWS: Michelle, do you think this was -- the use by this professional
organization, the Ravens, to take this syndrome we`re somewhat familiar
with --


MATTHEWS: -- where the -- where the female spouse has been beaten up by
the husband or boyfriend, and for whatever combination of psychological or
economic reasons -- economic reasons -- decides to let it go.

BERNARD: Well --

MATTHEWS: And they use that here and put her out there and basically
apologizing for being part of that syndrome --

BERNARD: Well --

MATTHEWS: -- and she`s a victim of it.

BERNARD: But -- well, and by doing that, they are revictimizing her. You
know, October 1 begins Domestic Violence Awareness Month in this country.
And if we look at what`s happened to her, if we think about what we see in
athletics, the fellow in South Africa, the Olympian who was accused of
domestic violence and killing his girlfriend -- we`ve seen it with Chris
Brown here in that area. Even locally, there was a woman who went to a
judge to get a temporary restraining order against her husband, the judge
pooh-poohed it, and her husband shows up at her job and throws -- throws
oil on her and lights her up and almost burns her to death. It`s a very
serious issue.

And when you put women in the position of apologizing for something that
allegedly led someone to batter them, you are revictimizing them. It is a
horrible thing. It`s very sad this video has become public, but on the
other hand, maybe it will allow people to actually begin to start this --
start taking it seriously.

He could have killed her. That`s a lot more than assault and battery. If
she had suffered a brain injury, if she had died, he would have been guilty
of murder, and then what would the Ravens have had on their hands?

MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Senator Blumenthal. Senator, what is the
legal aspects? Are you -- is there legislative action you can take here in
regard to this case and cases like it?

BLUMENTHAL: I`m certainly considering what legislative action there should
be because what we need in this instance is not blaming the victim and
stage-managing an apology from her, but emphasizing the courage and
strength that women who are victims of domestic violence, survivors of this
brutal crime, need to come forward and break with their past.

I`ve worked on this issue for a couple of decades now as an attorney
general and now as a senator. And the scourge, the epidemic, the cycle of
domestic violence, which is repeated because young men see or experience it
in their own lives, requires role models from these athletes that is
exactly the opposite of what we saw with Rice and a practice (ph) exactly
the opposite of what we saw from the Ravens and the NFL.

So whether we can do it legislatively, whether we can seek more aggravated
penalties at the state or federal level --


BLUMENTHAL: -- my hope is that this incident will lead to changes in
practices and much stronger penalties from the NFL.

MATTHEWS: It`s great to have you on, Senator Richard Blumenthal of
Connecticut. Thank you so much for coming on and taking the lead on this
case. Michelle Bernard, as always -- I think you`ll be back later in the
show. And Jemele Hill, thank you so much for your reporting for ESPN. And
thanks to TMZ for having us know about this stuff because sometimes without
the tape, you never really believe it until you see it.

Coming up: We elected President Obama to end wars. Can he now sell anti-
war Americans on his battle plan against ISIS? Can he take us to war with
the anti-war crowd?

And we`ll meet a juror in the McDonnell corruption trial that delivered
that catastrophic verdict against the former Virginia governor and his
wife. We`ll find out how she views politicians who do favors for people
who give them money.

Plus, if 80 percent of life is about showing up, look who showed up to say
good-bye to Joan Rivers. Deborah Norville`s going to join us. She was
inside. She spoke at the temple, the star-studded funeral and the iconic
comedian, all coming here late in the show.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with quid pro quo politics, getting something
personally for what you give a politician.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: We`ve got some new NBC News Marist polling in three key Senate
races. Let`s check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."

First to Arkansas, where Republican U.S. congressman Tom Cotton leads
incumbent senator Mark Pryor by 5 points among likely voters. It`s Cotton
45, Pryor 40. In Kentucky, Senator Mitch McConnell is up 8 over Democrat
Alison Lundergan Grimes. That`s 8. It`s McConnell 47, Grimes down at 39.
Finally, to Colorado, where incumbent senator Mark Udall leads Republican
challenger Cory Gardner by 6, 48 to 42.

So Arkansas and Kentucky, both red states, are favoring Republicans, while
Colorado trending blue is right now going for the Democrat. People are
going home politically.

And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. On Wednesday night of this week,
President Obama will address the country about the threat that we face from
ISIS and how we`re going to destroy it. Yesterday on "MEET THE PRESS" with
NBC`s Chuck Todd, the president spoke clearly about eliminating the threat
posed by the radical terrorist group, which has overtaken regions of Iraq
and Syria, of course, and has publicly beheaded two Americans.

Here`s the president yesterday.


something that we know how to do. We`ve been dealing with terrorist
threats for quite some time.

This is not going to be an announcement about U.S. ground troops. This is
not the equivalent of the Iraq war. What this is, is similar to the kinds
of counterterrorism campaigns that we`ve been engaging in consistently over
the last five, six, seven years.


MATTHEWS: Well, that counterterrorism campaign could very well involve the
deployment of special forces, more drone strikes, more air strikes, or
arming and training the Free Syrian Army. The question is, can the
president sell this war? What will his supporters, his opponents, and the
overall public do here?

A new CNN ORC poll out today should give the president a sense of where the
public stands, at least now -- 45 percent see ISIS as a very serious threat
to the U.S., 76 percent want more air strikes, 62 percent favor military
aid to forces fighting ISIS, but just as man, 61 percent, oppose U.S.
soldiers on the ground.

U.S. Congressman Jim McDermott`s a Democrat from Washington state. U.S.
Congressman Gregory Meeks is a New York Democrat. And David Corn is
Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones."

Gentlemen, let me start with Mr. McDermott. Would you support the use of
special forces, special ops forces in the area of Syria going after ISIS?
Would you support a resolution which included that action?

REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON: I`d have to be convinced by the
president. Right now, you have Senator Kerry and Senators (ph) Hagel
negotiating with the Saudis and with the Jordanians. And if we don`t have
some support from some of our Arab allies going on the ground, I don`t
think we should get into it.

If we say we`re going to do it all from the air and drop a few special
forces here and there, it`s not going to work. It is going to take more
than that, and we have to have our allies support us. I wouldn`t support
just Americans alone in this event.

MATTHEWS: And you think it`s plausible that the Saudis or Jordanians or
the Emirates would actually send fighting units into the field against
ISIS? You think that`s even plausible?

MCDERMOTT: Well, if it isn`t, Chris, then it`s not possible to win this
because you cannot win it from the air and win it by dropping in 100 or 200
or 300 or even 3,000 or 4,000 of our special forces. You`re not going to
win it that way.

We should have learned that over the last 11 years. The president is faced
with a Pandora`s box that George Bush took the lid off of, and you`re not
going to get the lid back on with a few special forces and drone strikes.

MATTHEWS: I agree with you completely. Let me go to Congressman Meeks on
that same question. The president says no boots on the ground, but special
forces are boots on the ground. They may not be marching along in a parade
fashion, like a front line in a trench warfare situation or marching across
Europe to get Hitler, but you start putting men on the ground there,
special ops units, they could be captured. They will be killed. Do you
think we should be doing that?

REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D), NEW YORK: I think Jim is basically right. You`ve
got to have an overall coalition. And that`s why I think that the
president has taken his time. You know, some were criticizing him,
thinking that he should act in a knee-jerk way. No, he`s not doing that.
He`s trying to make sure that we have our allies on board. It`s going to
be the -- you know, a coalition of allies who also have things at stake,
like the -- like those -- the Kurds and like those in -- in Iraq and Turkey
and Saudi Arabia. They need to be all part of this.

Now, you do these things, I think, in a coordinated manner. So if, in
fact, there happens to be one or two leaders that we know how to get, the
way that he coolly and calmly got Osama bin Laden, then you may do that.
But overall, you have to make sure that the Free Syrian Army maybe is the
one (INAUDIBLE) we got to know who we -- who we are arming and training,
that we have those kinds of troops on the ground to do the ground work.

But you coordinate it all, so that you can make sure that you can cut off
the leadership, as well as get the people on the ground, but do it with
other Sunni Muslims and other allied states, countries, so that we can make
sure there`s a comprehensive approach to getting this done.

MATTHEWS: OK, let me go back to you with the same question I put to Mr.
McDermott. Would you support a resolution giving the president authority
to put special forces into Syria to fight ISIS?

MEEKS: Again --

MATTHEWS: Special forces.

MEEKS: Again, if the president --

MATTHEWS: Would you do that?

MEEKS: Yes, if the president lays out his case and talks about that we are
having this overall coalition and that there`s going to be roles that each
of us play, you know, as he did, you know, even when we went into Libya --
he said what the specific role that the United States would play, and he
told the truth. And that`s what`s important, the president telling us the
truth as to what his plans are and why he`s doing what he`s doing.

MATTHEWS: Well, it makes me think this is going to be a fraternity prank
and we`re the only ones doing it.

Anyway, the president ran on his opposition to the Iraq war. He`s
withdrawing troops from both Iraq and Afghanistan. He`s even won the Nobel
Peace Prize.

But now he`s repositioning his presidency, after amping up surveillance,
killing bin Laden, to helping to topple Gadhafi in Libya, and wanting to
strike Syria. He will address the country about a prolonged conflict
against ISIS.

Yesterday, the president warned about the dangers facing America if nothing
is done. Let`s listen.


understand that we have not seen any immediate intelligence about threats
to the homeland from ISIL.

That`s not what this is about. What it`s about is an organization that, if
allowed to control significant amounts of territory, to amass more
resources, more arms, to attract more foreign fighters, including from
areas like Europe, who have Europeans who have visas and then can travel to
the United States unimpeded, that over time that can be a serious threat to
the homeland.


MATTHEWS: Let me go to Mr. McDermott.

I`m very uncomfortable with the phrase homeland. It strikes me as
totalitarian. It`s a term used by the neocons. They love it. It suggests
something strange to me. Like, who else are we defending, except America?
Why don`t you just say America?

Why doesn`t he say, we defend against attacks against this country, as if
we`re facing some existential Armageddon threat from these people? Do you
buy the phrase homeland as a reference to America? I never heard it
growing up, never heard it in my adulthood. It`s a new word. Why are we
using it? Is there some other place we`re defending?

What are we talking about when we say homeland? What`s about it, this new
lingo, WMD, homeland? It`s the language of the neocons. It`s a language
to get us further into wars. Your thoughts, though. I want yours, not

REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON: Well, from my point of view, Chris,
it`s more of the war-mongering that George Bush used to get us in, in the
first place.

We started out hearing it was about weapons of mass destruction. That was
untrue, absolutely untrue. And he knew it. But he took us into this war.
And then it was about getting Osama bin Laden. And after that, it was a
democracy, and after that, it was the awakening of the people out in the
Anbar province.

And they have been shifting, but it`s all about war-mongering, trying to
make people at home afraid, because they know that if you can make people
afraid, you can make them do anything. And they have to keep the American
people afraid for him to carry on this kind of stuff.

And I don`t like the term homeland and all this, because it`s really war-

MATTHEWS: Let me go to David --

MCDERMOTT: The ISIS right now is stuck trying to deal with Iraq. They got
dams and they got all kinds of things they`re working with. They`re not
coming to the United States.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to David on this, because you and I talk about the
ideology involved in this. I do fear the president, although he may be
doing what he knows or thinks he has to do, but he`s buying into the lingo.
He is. Dempsey starts talking like this, then he starts talking like it.


DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: This is the challenge he has.

If you go back to the Bush years -- and they have portrayed Saddam Hussein
as an existential threat. It was zero or 10. You either wanted to get rid
of him --


MATTHEWS: There`s not going to be a U.S. anymore.

CORN: Right. Exactly. It would be a mushroom cloud.

The president has the challenge here of trying to talk about ISIS in a
realistic way. It`s not a direct threat to us now. It`s a threat to the
region. It could be a threat to us down the road, in a way that sort of
still gets some political support to take step-by-step action.

So what he wants to have is to have a somewhat nuanced conversation. Now,
you know, when it comes to the neocons and people and the hawks, they don`t
like that. And on the -- his -- his supporters on the left sometimes are
uncomfortable if you talk in those terms like homeland.

So if he can come before the public and sort of talk honestly about why
ISIS is a problem, without it being an existential dramatic problem, that`s
what he has to do.

MATTHEWS: The people who pushed us into Iraq, gentlemen, are the same
people pushing right now, Robert Kagan, the ultimate neo con, on "The Wall
Street Journal" page, review page, this weekend, a whole page about how
this is all about fighting Hitler. This is just like fighting Hitler.
This is just Munich.

What are they, nuts?

Anyway, late today, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke about building a
global coalition to destroy ISIS. Let`s hear him.


JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Tomorrow, I will travel to the Middle
East to continue to build the broadest possible coalition of partners
around the globe to confront, degrade, and ultimately defeat ISIL.

As we build this coalition, I want to underscore that almost every single
country on earth has a role to play in eliminating the ISIL threat. We are
clear that President Obama and I and the entire team absolutely understand
this is something we must achieve and we will be successful.


MATTHEWS: Congressman Meeks, last question to you.

Would you support the president if he said, we have got to go in there, the
Americans have got to go in there and do it, just us?

MEEKS: No, I think the president has said, he`s not going to do that.

The president has been very clear. I think it would have been easy for him
to say something that would make people fearful. I agree with Jim that`s
what was done before. What he said here and the reason why I think he
utilized the term homeland is to distinguish from the immediate attack here
in the United States, as opposed to what is taking place in Syria and Iraq
now, so that -- and he`s been clear.

He`s saying -- others, I think the ones that are really wanting war,
they`re trying to make it seem like it`s an imminent threat on the United
States. He`s clearly said, it`s not. He said it could be in the future if
they were left unchecked. But by putting this coalition together and
dealing not on the homeland, but dealing there and to do what we have to do
there, then we won`t have to work -- worry about the homeland, we will keep
the homeland safe in that regard.


MATTHEWS: Well, you and I grew up with the term America. It`s good enough
for me. And it should be good enough for the neocon. It`s America. It`s
not the fricking homeland. It`s America. It`s our country. Stop talking
internationally and weirdly about war and this Armageddon struggle that
you`re obsessed with.

It`s not World War II either.

Thank you, Congressman Greg Meeks, of course, in New York. Thank you for
coming in. And Congressman Jim McDermott of Washington State and David
Corn, my friend, thank you for joining us.

Up next, the Bubba-W. show. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W.
Bush yuk it up together. Isn`t that cute?

As we head to a break, let`s take a look at the feisty first debate, by the
way, out in Kansas between incumbent Republican Senator Pat Roberts and
independent Greg Orman.


SEN. PAT ROBERTS (R), KANSAS: The people of Kansas elected me to go to the
U.S. Senate. The U.S. Senate is in Washington. My home is Dodge City, and
I`m damn proud of it.



have been to Dodge City more this year than you have.





about going to restaurants and having to spend our time about taking
selfies with people.


still asking, you know?

CLINTON: Yes. That`s right. Yes. That`s right.



MATTHEWS: Time now for the "Sideshow."

That was of course former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush
sharing the stage today to launch a program called presidential leadership

But, as you can see, their joint appearance was also an opportunity for
some laughs. Take a look at what happened when Clinton took a curious
phone call in the middle of their Q&A.


CLINTON: It`s hard to make good decisions in complex environments.



CLINTON: There`s only one -- only -- only two people have this number.
They`re both related to me. I hope I`m not being told I`m about to become
a premature grandfather.


BUSH: That`s right.


BUSH: That would make national news.



MATTHEWS: And with rumors of a Hillary Clinton or a Jeb Bush candidacy for
president in 2016, they were asked this inevitable question about whether
we can expect about political announcements from either of their respective


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If either of you has any political announcements,
endorsements or predictions you would like to make, now would be a really
fun time.


BUSH: It`s like the time the guy -- remember the woman, and I think in
Canada, asked us about, very dramatically said, what about another Clinton-
Bush matchup?

And my answer was, the first one didn`t turn out too good.



MATTHEWS: Of course, he`s referring right there to the 1992 presidential
election, where his father lost to the guy sitting next to him there.

Anyway, next up, HBO funnyman John Oliver is known to poke fun at the media
now and again. In June, he went after me for talking about my old boss Tip
O`Neill too often. But last night, it was the correspondents of "60
Minutes" in the spotlight in a montage depicting their curious interview
style. Watch this.


NARRATOR: And now "60 Minutes" anchors prompting people to deliver the
exact sound bite they need.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got to hand it to them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Yes, you do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was off and running.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was off and running.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is sort of the father of hot sauce.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s the father of hot sauce.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does that surprise you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It does surprise me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you`re saying we shouldn`t?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we shouldn`t.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And there`s no reason to prepare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No reason to prepare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that`s essentially a commercial for GoPro.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Essentially a commercial for GoPro.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of them bad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of them bad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the crowd there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the crowd right there.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s quite an image.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Quite an image.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was almost a cakewalk actually.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To beat the system?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To beat the system.





MATTHEWS: I think they call that leading the witness.

Anyway, up next, we`re going to talk to one of the jurors who delivered
that catastrophic verdict against former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell
and his wife.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Let`s go right now to Baltimore to hear from the head coach of
the Baltimore Ravens and some of his players.


make the best of it.

QUESTION: John, what was it like to see that video?

HARBAUGH: You know, it`s -- it`s something we saw for the first time
today, you know, all of us. And it changed things, of course. You know,
it made things a little bit different.

QUESTION: How did --


QUESTION: John, did -- did he mislead you? Were you misled in any way?
Because you stood up here and defended the guy, and now you see the video
and make this decision.

HARBAUGH: You know, I don`t -- I don`t want to get into all that. I don`t
think of it that way. Everything I said in terms of what I believe, I
stand behind.

I believe that still. And I will always believe those things. And we will
always stand in support of them as a couple. And that is not going to

QUESTION: Coach, how come your team was not able to see the video until

HARBAUGH: I have no answer for that.

QUESTION: John (OFF-MIKE) how do you fear as what you will have in the
backfield going forward?

HARBAUGH: Well, you know, we will have exactly what we have had so far.

That`s -- we have got the guys that we have. And I -- I`m excited about
our offense. I`m excited about some of the things we did yesterday in
terms of yards and points and -- or opportunities to score points. We need
to score more points and first downs and things like that.

And I know we can play a lot better than we did. And I`m looking forward
to seeing how we do.

QUESTION: John, you said it changed for you. How did it change after
seeing it?

HARBAUGH: I don`t know if I want to get into all the details about it.

I mean, I think it is pretty obvious and it`s pretty apparent. Everybody
has seen the video. And I would just leave it at that.

QUESTION: Coach, do you believe the NFL has seen that video before today?

HARBAUGH: I don`t have any understanding or knowledge of any of that. I
don`t know.

QUESTION: Was there discussion between the Ravens and NFL (OFF-MIKE)

HARBAUGH: Well, not that I`m involved with. I`m involved right now with
the football team and getting ready for Pittsburgh.

QUESTION: You came into the league when Ray came into the NFL as a head
coach. Could you talk -- you had a strong relationship with him. This has
to be personally kind of devastating to you.

HARBAUGH: Well, it is always -- when someone that you care about does
wrong, you know, and is faced with the consequences of doing wrong, and
rightfully so, it is -- it is tough. It is hurtful.

And -- and my pain is for both of them as a couple and going forward. My
hope is that they can make it work. And from everything that I understand
and in talking to Ray, up until his suspension, talking to him a lot, it
seemed like they really were working hard and they were doing well in that
direction. And I hope they can weather this part of it too.

And I will be praying with that. And if I can help in any way, my wife and
I can help in any way, we will. And that`s where it is at.

QUESTION: Coach, can you sure any of Ray`s reaction to the news today?

HARBAUGH: You know, I would really rather not, Gerry. It`s more personal.

QUESTION: Coach, were you satisfied with the level of diligence that the
organization took to see what occurred on that video?

HARBAUGH: Absolutely. Absolutely. Sure.

I`m not -- I`m not following where you`re going with that.

QUESTION: I`m just curious why the team wasn`t able to see the video

HARBAUGH: I don`t know why that would be a hard thing to understand. It
wasn`t made available. It wasn`t there for us.

QUESTION: From a legal standpoint?

HARBAUGH: As far as I know, yes. It wasn`t something we ever saw, ever
had access to.

QUESTION: John, did you discuss it with the team as a whole today? And
how was the tone of (OFF-MIKE)

HARBAUGH: We did. And it was -- I think the team responds just the way
everybody responds to these things.

And, again, you`re talking about somebody you know. It`s a little more --
it`s a little more challenging when you are talking about someone that is
part of your family, so to speak. And our guys, they felt it. And all the
same emotions that everybody out there would feel, you know, we all felt.

QUESTION: Why did the video change the team`s reaction so drastically?
What did you think happened in that elevator before you saw the video?

HARBAUGH: You know, I don`t want to get into all that. Talking about
feelings and that stuff, it`s -- I think it`s pretty easy for everybody to
understand, you know, anybody that`s got a heart can understand how that


HARBAUGH: Excuse me?


HARBAUGH: I`m sorry. Say it again.


HARBAUGH: Right, I`m not going to get into all that, Aaron. Those are
personal conversations and that`s really where that belongs. I want to
respect that.


HARBAUGH: You know, the timing is the timing that it is. And we have a
football game to play Thursday night. We have no control over that. I
don`t have any feelings about that at all. It will not impact us in any
way, football wise. You can`t allow that. This is professional football
and we`ll be ready to play Thursday night.

REPORTER: This affects your organization on so many different levels. For
you, which is the most difficult?

HARBAUGH: I wish I had an answer for that. That`s a pretty deep question.
I haven`t given it that much thought to think of it on that many levels
right now.

REPORTER: What would be one that you can think of?

HARBAUGH: I don`t have those options in front of me. I don`t have that
list right now.


HARBAUGH: I don`t know. I don`t have any expectation for anything right
now. The expectation really is to move with our team going forward and be
the best football team we can be.


HARBAUGH: Certainly. You know, everything`s discussed. Like I said, it
wasn`t a long meeting, though.

REPORTER: Why wasn`t -- why wasn`t it long?

HARBAUGH: Is there anything else?


HARBAUGH: Right. We held Marshall back. He`s healthy. No injury there,
but we sat Marshall out today.

All right? Anything else?

REPORTER: Who is your starting running back Thursday?

HARBAUGH: Bernard Pierce, Justin Forsett, they`ll both play a lot. And
Lorenzo Taliaferro will be a big part of it too.

Good. Good question. Thanks. All right, thanks a lot.

REPORTER: Thank you.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: That`s Baltimore Ravens head coach John
Harbaugh on the termination today of star running back Ray Rice`s contract.
That was today after the release of that videotape we`ve been watching that
showed him, well, decking basically his fiance.

Joining me right now from Redskins Park is WRC`s sports reporter Dianna
Russini. Also with us is MSNBC contributor Goldie Taylor. And Rob
Simmelkjaer of NBC Sports.

Rob, I want to hold you after we hear from the two women.

First of all, Dianna, what`s -- there`s a good question posed by one of the
reporters at that press conference. What did you need to see in that
picture that you didn`t already know? It wasn`t about slapping somebody.
That was a decking. It looked like a heavyweight boxing match, that one
person just got hit with a roundhouse punch and went down, was limp as a
rag doll, then he kicked her to get out of position there because she might
be interfering with the elevator.

DIANNA RUSSINI, WRC SPORTS REPORTER: Yes. Chris, for five minutes there,
John Harbaugh just seemed to avoid anything that required him to get into
detail of really what he knew. He claims he did not see that video at all.
So, you have to believe him.

But the entire I was just listening to that, I just kept thinking, if John
Harbaugh did not know, Roger Goodell needs to be the one standing up there
right now, figuring out, or letting us know whether or not he saw that.
You know, I was looking on Twitter just a few minutes ago and here in D.C.,
TMZ did a interview with a local FOX affiliate here and Harvey Levin said,
tomorrow morning, we`re all going to wake up with some big news.

Apparently, the NFL had a blind eye to this video. They apparently saw
this. So, there`s still a lot more to this. But John Harbaugh today
really just trying to do his best. It sounded like it didn`t take them
long to make that decision to cut Ray Rice.

MATTHEWS: Well, a picture is worth a thousand words, Goldie. And you know
about this issue of abuse, but this is a -- this is a knockout punch. And
you have to ask yourself, first of all, even for it to exist once in
history, it`s unbelievable. And you have to wonder what the pattern here
before and after this behavior. And why did she -- of course, you will
understand more about this, why did she cover for him when it came up to
his contract and everything else before?

GOLDIE TAYLOR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Sure. The power dynamics within
domestic violence are absolutely something that`s very complicated. You
don`t know why people stay or why they go. But you do know that both men
and women happen to be abused.

What I didn`t see from Harbaugh today was any detail to his answer. What I
did hear from a lot of top-tier NFL sports writers today is that the NFL
and the Ravens were comfortable enough that they had seen that video and
able to characterize it to them, contemporaneously when this happened. So
for them to say today, they did not see the video, I think something
doesn`t jibe here. So I`m skeptical.

But what I`m more skeptical about is what the D.A. didn`t do. What we see
in this video, as you said is clearly an aggravated assault case. You
don`t need the victim to come forward in this. You got a videotape. So we
want to know why he was eligible for a diversionary program.

You know, I believe in redemption. You know, I`ve been through domestic
violence, but I`ve also had a spouse who needed recovery and therapy. So,
I understand the gamut of it.

But this was not domestic violence. This was aggravated assault. And
that`s a crime punishable by we the state, we the people.

MATTHEWS: You know, Rob, not only does he deck her and drag her limp body
out of the elevator, but then you see him kicking her to get her out of
position. I mean, he`s treating her like not even a life form. He kicks
her at some point, because her legs are still into the elevator door. The
behavior is just unbelievable.

And I wonder, a good question, if anybody saw this before and said we`re
going to keep this guy`s $35 million contract alive because what he does on
the field is more important than this, is what they`re saying, if that`s
the case. Your thoughts?
ROB SIMMELKJAER, NBC SPORTS: Yes, Chris. I mean, obviously, the video is
horrific, there`s no question about it. I think some of the questions were
really good.

I think your last guest makes a great point. We were focused very much
here on the NFL and on the Ravens and the decisions they made, but this all
started with law enforcement and an investigation that law enforcement did
take place, and they made the decision not to give Ray Rice any more
serious punishment other than a diversionary program.

The NFL has made it clear that they, in some sense, did take a cue from law
enforcement in the way they handled it. So, it`s not just the NFL and the
Ravens that should be looked at here. It`s really in law enforcement and
generally our society`s treatment of incidents like this.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s go back to Diana. You`re an expert -- as a woman
and a sports expert. What is this about getting the woman here, the fiance
at the time, later the wife, to get up there in public and apologize for
what? Being his target?

I mean, it`s incredible that she says to the world I`m somehow responsible
for this guy decking me.

RUSSINI: That`s the part of this conversation that I think is the most
disturbing. I think today we all saw this video, we`re all freaking out
about it. It was a very disturbing video.

But I think the conversation we need to start having is now, what`s next
for her? What decision is she going to make? She knew the whole time what
really happened. We didn`t know. We assumed he hit her.

But apparently, sources inside the Ravens` organization had told me that
the players were told by Ray Rice that something completely different went
down inside that elevator. So, I don`t know what he said happened, what
sort of scuffle they had, but from what they saw in that video, that did
not even come close to the way he explained it happened.

So, she knew that he punched her across the face and she stood by him that
whole time. And hearing, to me, hearing John talk about how he`s praying
for the couple, he`s showing support for the couple, I know he needs to do
that as an NFL head coach. Ray Rice probably doesn`t have too many people
in his corner.

But it still makes you wonder, this is like -- like you guys were saying
here, this is a domestic abuse case here right now and a lot of attention
needs to be drawn. And really the woman in this case, she needs to make a
stand here, because there are a lot of young women watching this right now.

HAYES: You`re not kidding. And this is going to be a case everybody in
America is going to know about, and they`re going to watch the behavior of
the owners, they`re going to watch the behavior of the NFL, the behavior of
the guy who did it, and how he handles it, but more importantly how she
handles it. You`re right.

Dianna Russini, thank you much for joining us out of WRC from Redskins
Park. Goldie Taylor, thank you. And Rob Simmelkjaer, thank you very much
for coming on in this strangely very important evening for America.

And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

With several thousand onlookers lining the streets, the funeral for Joan
Rivers took place at the Temple on the Upper East Side of Manhattan
yesterday. The comedian died last week at the age of 81.

Rivers had joked about what she wanted her memorial to look like in her
2012 book.


JOAN RIVERS, COMEDIAN: I want my funeral to be -- to be a huge showbiz
affair with lights and camera and action. I want it to be Hollywood all
the way. Don`t give me some rabbi rambling on.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, the funeral featured yesterday a parade of celebrities,
everyone from Barbara Walters to Sarah Jessica Parker and Rosie O`Donnell.
Hugh Jackman sang Broadway tunes. Roger McDonnell performed a Charlie
Chapman song smile, which Charlie Chapman wrote, and the Gay Men`s Chorus
of New York City sang, "Hey, Big Spender" and other tunes. Bag pipe
performers concluded the ceremony. There you hear them.

By all accounts, it was, indeed, a huge showbiz affair.

Deborah Norville right now, she`s the anchor, of course, of "Inside
Edition". She was friends and still is with Joan Rivers. She spoke at the

Deborah, I was talking -- it seems to me that when we first discovered Joan
Rivers as a young woman, she was absolutely -- nobody had ever been that
good. She was up there with Carson. That good.

DEBORAH NORVILLE, INSIDE EDITION: You know, it`s funny. it`s so unlikely
that she and I were friends, too, because when Joan Rivers first went on
Carson, I was going into first grade.

So, fast forward all these years later when I was actually on NBC on the
"Today" show, Joan was one of the many comics who used me as material, and
she made just scathing jokes about me. And then a couple years later, I
was on her talk show and I had the chance to say to her everybody made
jokes about you and I made jokes about you, and she leaned forward and said
you`re sorry, aren`t you? I said, yes, I am.

And I think that was kind of like a big ice breaker, because Joan`s comedy
was never meant to be hurtful, but it was meant to be searing. And she
went right to what people were talking about. And if you happen to be what
they were talking, then you were what she went right to. But she was --
she was big for so many years.

But, then, when she left Carson, she had her show on FOX, the first woman
to host a late night show, and they pulled the plug on the show when she
refused to say to her husband, who was executive producing, they don`t want
you here. She said if he goes, I go. So, they said good-bye. And three
months later, he killed himself.

That was the trap door of her life, basically fell out from under her --
lost her husband, lost her job, lost her finances. She basically went
bankrupt. And she had to totally rebuild. And I think that`s why
everybody loved her, because she didn`t throw in the towel and say that`s
it. Good night, Gracie. She just kept on going.

MATTHEWS: Well, I was impressed by the crowds yesterday. Her friends, by
the way, speaking as you do, as someone who was a true original, "Wall
Street Journal" column is my favorite, Peggy Noonan writes, in fact she
wrote on her blog over the weekend, "There was nobody like her. In fact,
some people are knockoffs or imitations of other, stronger more vivid
figures, but there was never another Joan Rivers before her or while she
lived. She was a seriously, wonderful, self-invented woman."

Was she different besides what you see?

NORVILLE: Yes, in person, she was every bit as funny. And she could make
something as stupid -- I remember once we were sitting at a luncheon and we
were discussing whether somebody at the next table was someone or not. And
she sits there and as this guy is putting down the plate, she said, who
would you rather sleep with him, the guy we`ve been talking about, or him,
and this toothless waiter who basically -- she just -- she was so quick.
She just -- the timing was brilliant. And she was fall-off-your-chair

I remember one time, she had a dinner party. And the elevator in her
building was broken. So, rather than, you know, ask her guest to walk up
however many flights of stairs it was, she founded in the yellow pages, I
don`t know, 1-800-strong-guy waiting at the base of the stairs. And they
were paid to pick all of the ladies up and put them under their arm and
just come up the stairs with the ladies. She made everything funny.

And even -- I`m just so glad that she wasn`t in her hospital bed and knew
that she was in her hospital bed. She would have been able to make that
funny, though. And she would have loved that funeral. Everybody who was
anybody was there. It was invitation only.

And I think the one thing that everybody in that temple would agree on,
Joan made you better. If you were going to be with Joan Rivers, and you
probably ran into her over the years, if you were going to be with Joan
Rivers, she made you smarter. She made you cleverer.

You ask better questions because she was just so sharp. And, you know, you
just didn`t want to disappoint her. And I don`t know anybody who has the
impact on anybody the way she did.

MATTHEWS: Deborah Norville, it`s great having you on. And great insight
into what happened in that temple yesterday. What a great sendoff that

Up next --

NORVILLE: Oh my gosh, it sure was.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Deborah Norville.

And we`ll be right back after this.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this question. What an elected
politician should be allowed to do for someone who gives them money?
Should they be able to reward them? If not, how can we defend the practice
of awarding prized ambassadorships to people who contribute money and raise
money for their campaigns?

Don`t president of both parties do that as a matter of course? What about
showing up at a contributor`s house to recognize the host and your personal
regard for them? Isn`t this like Governor McDonald showing his personal
support for a businessman? You`re showing up, lending your prestige to the
person because they gave you money.

Can politicians do other favors for the contributors like hosting them
overnight at the White House? Letting them sleep in the Lincoln bedroom?
What about writing letters of recommendation for their children at top-
rated colleges? What about introducing legislation favorable to a

Don`t politicians do this all of the time? Isn`t it the reason business
people, labor unions and other pressure groups give money to political
campaigns? Where is the line? If a politician cannot return a favor once
in office, who will pay for them to win that office? Who, indeed?

Well, thanks to last week`s McDonnell trial, we are on a very interesting
course right now.

And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


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