updated 12/8/2014 10:24:02 AM ET 2014-12-08T15:24:02

Show: HARDBALL
Date: December 5, 2014

Guest: Mercedes Schlapp

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Choosing sides.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

The news tonight is the unifying power of that videotape. The word
keeps coming from conservatives as well as progressives, from white as well
as black, that something deadly wrong took place on Staten Island last
July. The picture of what appears to be a gentle giant being taken down
and killed by police officers has widened the spectrum of outrage. People
from all walks of life and all ways of looking at politics are insisting
that this matter not go away, that we don`t simply move on.

In other big news tonight, the "bridge-gate" scandal now lands in the
hands of federal investigators after a state legislative probe fails to tie
Governor Chris Christie to the order to close down traffic lanes on the
George Washington Bridge.

Also, an explosion of jobs and wage hikes may help relieve the
economic squeeze in this country. And new screwed-up facts appear in that
University of Virginia rape story in "Rolling Stone" magazine. And guess
what? And this is something we can feel good about. The United States is
back on the space journey. Next stop, Mars.

Let`s get right now to the up front story, the emerging left-right
consensus on the tragic Eric Garner death. I`m joined by the roundtable
tonight, Jonathan Capehart, opinion writer for "The Washington Post" and an
MSNBC contributor, Mercedes Schlapp, who`s a Republican strategist, and
David Corn, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones" and an MSNBC
political analyst.

Well, one big difference with this case is there was proof of what
happened, or video proof, if you will, and watching it has been brutal for
everyone, no doubt, played -- and it played a role for many conservatives
who have spoken out against the verdict in New York. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I thought, How
sad. You know, the verdict was hard to understand. You know, I haven`t
seen all the details, but it`s sad that -- that race continues to play such
a -- you know, kind of an emotional, divisive part of life.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, "MORNING JOE": This is on video. We have been
talking about Ferguson. We have been debating Ferguson, just like Trayvon
was debated. There`s really no debate here. This was a homicide. It`s on
video.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: From looking at the video, the
grand jury`s decision here is totally incomprehensible. Is looks as if at
least they might have indicted him on something like involuntary
manslaughter, at the very least. The guy actually said, I can`t breathe.

BILL O`REILLY, HOST, "THE O`REILLY FACTOR": I will say that upon
seeing the video that you just saw and hearing Mr. Garner say he could not
breathe, I was extremely troubled. I would have loosened my grip. I
desperately wish the officer would have done that.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I think it`s hard not to watch that
video of him saying, "I can`t breathe, I can`t breathe," and not be
horrified by it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Let`s go to Mercedes. Why? Why different from -- so
different from the feeling and the atmosphere surrounding the Ferguson
case, where they both involved big, large, African-American guys, both
killed, you know, by police?

MERCEDES SCHLAPP, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, Chris, there`s a
video, and that makes all the difference. That`s something that you
normally don`t see. What`s interesting, though, is that when you -- I was
talking to a criminal defense lawyer, who basically mentioned that the
grand jury -- the prosecutors give them the evidence. They pick out the
evidence, basically. So usually, it`s stacked up against the accuser.
(sic) So that`s why it`s just so perplexing, this particular...

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) the jury saw this, apparently.

SCHLAPP: They did, but yet it wasn`t enough to say, you know -- the
officer came out, Pantaleo, and basically said, Well, I didn`t mean to harm
him or try to kill him. But at the same time, there`s something to be said
that law enforcement is being given too much discretion and basically taken
over that whole idea of using reasonable force. I mean, this was a non-
violent act! This was cigarettes!

JONATHAN CAPEHART, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: But too much
discretion -- or too much deference when you get to the grand jury
process...

SCHLAPP: That`s right.

CAPEHART: ... where -- and I can understand it. If you`re on a grand
jury and a police officer comes and you`ve got a situation involving a
police officer -- we entrust a lot to police officers, to keep us safe, to
protect our friends and families, you name it. And so I can see a
situation where, you know, cop comes there and says, This is what happened,
and the heart goes out to the police officer. Well, he`s doing his job.
But...

MATTHEWS: They did have 22 civilian witnesses in addition to the...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHLAPP: And a video!

DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: But also, the
thing is, you know, the grand jury is supposed to be in charge. We all
know that it`s the prosecutor truly in charge. Prosecutors work with cops
every day. They need them to make their cases, in which they themselves,
the prosecutors, are judged upon.

So there`s no real independence here. There`s no -- you know, I wrote
a piece in "Mother Jones" that came out yesterday. I was a witness to a
cop 20, 30 years ago, shooting an unarmed homeless person near the
Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. And I went before the grand
jury as a witness. I had to actually tell the police I saw it, and I had
to go down to the station. They didn`t want to take my statement. You
know, they had their story all set.

When I got down there and I got into the grand jury room. Everybody
else -- the jurors were kind of sleeping. And the prosecutor asked me one
question, really. Did I see a knife in the guy`s hand? I was right next
to the guy. He wasn`t holding a knife. And I said no, and the reason why
-- because he had -- was holding a big stone beforehand. He couldn`t have
gotten a knife. He cut me off. He said, Thank you very much

So it wasn`t about me telling my full story for the jurors to
evaluate. The prosecutor was deciding what they would hear. I don`t know
what happened in this grand jury or...

MATTHEWS: What happened then?

CORN: What happened was there was no charges brought against this
person.

MATTHEWS: Ever.

CORN: Ever. Ever.

MATTHEWS: Well, another difference out there, here (ph) was an
accusation that the victim, Eric Garner, posed any kind of threat. There
was no argument that he was dangerous to anybody. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: Just on the basis of the
tape alone, on the basis of the absence of a threat that Eric Garner posed
-- yes, he was resisting arrest, but he had no means to threaten the
police. He had no deadly force in his hands. This is not a case like in
Ferguson, where there was a struggle for the gun.

O`REILLY: Mr. Garner, clearly a low-level offender, was not a threat.
American police are held to a very high standard because they have power.
They have guns. They must control inflammatory situations, not make them
worse.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, I thought a lot of his (ph) empathy -- I think
that what would have hurt the case against Michael Brown, if he had
survived that incident, would have been the scene in the convenience store,
which was on tape.

SCHLAPP: Of course.

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) little guy who`s half his size and stealing
this small item, but definitely stealing it. Makes it a robbery. In this
case, there`s something about that guy. I said gentle giant...

SCHLAPP: Gentle giant.

MATTHEWS: ... because his hands were (INAUDIBLE) I don`t think it was
(INAUDIBLE) it was, like, Just don`t cuff me. Just -- I have some pride
here. It was that sort of, like...

CORN: But he was not...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... defending his body against the police.

CORN: Police are able to -- are allowed use force and deadly force on
the basis of what level of threat they face. So if it takes you 30 more
seconds to convince him to put his hands down and, Come with us, that --
you know, why don`t they try that? They went after him so quickly!

MATTHEWS: Why did they have to cuff him? If he`d say, I`ll get in
the car, I`m not (INAUDIBLE)

SCHLAPP: And he`s basically saying, "I can`t breathe, I can`t
breathe"...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But the guy jumped him from behind.

SCHLAPP: Yes.

MATTHEWS: It`s -- everybody went to high school (INAUDIBLE) you may
have gone to a nicer school, but...

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... you would have a fight and somebody to get behind you
and lean down, you`d fall over the guy or they`d grab you from behind.

CORN: And you don`t know who...

MATTHEWS: That was high school tactics, not police tactics.

CAPEHART: Here`s the other thin. What`s missing in that video is a
sense of humanity. He`s screaming "I can`t breathe" 11 times. At what
point does the police officer or police officers...

CORN: The ones around him.

CAPEHART: ... around him say, OK, you know what? He`s on the ground.
Let`s at least cuff him and get him some help. They didn`t do that. And
even in the second videotape -- video that`s out there, he`s just lying
there, Eric Garner, not moving, so I`m assuming he`s unconscious in this
particular video, and they`re doing nothing. Not applying CPR, nothing!

MATTHEWS: When does human empathy kick in? When -- as somebody said,
on moral grounds, he should -- the cops should -- forget rules...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHLAPP: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: You don`t choke a guy to death who`s got health problems
anyway. He`s overweight. What I find is fascinating, because I do have
respect, although I disagree with them, on certain people on the right -- I
clearly do, and Krauthammer, a lot of respect for. He`s a neocon to the
nth degree, but I do think he`s honest. O`Reilly is a curmudgeon in so
many ways, but he`s certainly not a party-liner. He is a curmudgeon. But
he probably doesn`t like police kicking him around, either.

I mean, there`s a certain level where you have empathy against
authority figures and you feel that libertarian urge of, Off me! You know?

CORN: Well, this is the interesting because in the past, the
conservative side in general has always sided with cops in these sort of
situations, even though they don`t like the power of the government...

MATTHEWS: Of the state.

CORN: ... or the state. But you know, when it comes to, like, the
death penalty and other things, they`re all for that sort of power. But in
this instance, I think you`re right, the tape is just so undeniable...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Conservatives think back -- a lot of liberals don`t do
this, progressives. They think back to the crime that got that guy on
death row, usually a couple of crimes, usually aggravated cases, where it`s
deliberate assassination of people in some Starbucks in the basement when
they`re -- you know, horrible scene. So they -- conservatives better than
liberals remember that...

CORN: Oh, I...

MATTHEWS: They do remember it.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I think they have a keen instinct for the crime itself.
Mercedes?

SCHLAPP: Well, I think that...

MATTHEWS: You`re the conservative here, so...

(LAUGHTER)

SCHLAPP: Well, you know, I really believe, in this case, it crosses
party lines. I mean, this is just something that is just, you know, black
or white. And here we have the similarity with what we`re seeing. The
differences with the Michael Brown case, for example, was the fact that in
the Michael Brown case, there was that question, was there an act of
aggression on the part of Michael Brown, correct?

MATTHEWS: In the car.

SCHLAPP: Exactly. And then the other part is, you know, this is a
white officer and a black man. And you know, so it has to raise these
questions about race and about what the black community is suffering and
going through and where -- and that distrust...

MATTHEWS: But there were some officers of color in that crime scene
with (INAUDIBLE) Garner.

CAPEHART: Well, sure...

MATTHEWS: So you know, cops are cops and you know...

SCHLAPP: But again, what -- how would -- how is law enforcement
responding?

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) I shouldn`t say cops are cops because -- I
would love to get a really good sort of lie detector test (INAUDIBLE) take
that. Do black officers or Hispanic officers have a different attitudes
towards perps? Do they have -- or are they all equally tough and equally
hardened to the situation?

CAPEHART: Well, I will tell you -- I will tell you this much, that
there are African-Americans in various communities around the country for
whom a police officer, whether white or black, Latino, Asian, is a police
officer that makes them uncomfortable. And if they are living in
communities such as Ferguson, where the police officers are not viewed as
protection, but as someone to be protected from, that`s a problem.

CORN: That was such a great point the president made because at the
end of the day, it`s about trust.

CAPEHART: Right.

CORN: If a community doesn`t trust the police or the government at
large, there`s a problem. You got to think about why that is, the
historical reasons, the current reasons, and if you don`t deal with it...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... act like an occupying force, either. They got to
reflect the community...

CAPEHART: Right. Exactly.

MATTHEWS: ... at some point.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: The roundtable`s staying with us.

And coming up, the early results of that "bridge-gate" investigation
by New Jersey state lawmakers leaves big questions unanswered. But it
opens the question, at least for me, if Governor Christie ran his office
like Dick Nixon did. He was ruthless in punishing the potential enemies.
There`s a lot still to learn when the U.S. attorney finishes his criminal
investigation early next year.

Plus, a huge jobs report and an all-time high for the Dow, near 18,000
points. Despite the good news, however, we know the middle class is still
feeling the squeeze. Everybody is.

Also, "Rolling Stone" magazine backs off its story about a woman -- a
young woman in college who said she was raped at a fraternity party at UVA.

Finally, the dawn of a new era in manned space travel. Today -- today
-- America is back in the space journey. It`s on to Mars.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, President Obama has nominated Ashton Carter of
Abington High School to be the next defense secretary. Carter`s a Pentagon
veteran, and he`s seen as a centrist. And so far, he`s won praise from
Republicans, which means he might -- he just might -- have a smooth
confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Carter would replace Chuck Hagel, who
resigned last week under obvious pressure.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, the early results of that
big "bridge-gate" investigation by New Jersey lawmakers in Trenton leaves
some major questions unanswered, but it drives home what we`ve known for
months now, that New Jersey governor Chris Christie had his office devoted
to hardball tactics against his rivals.

Christie had a similarly hard-nosed campaign operation which ran on
disciplining, and yes, punishing his opponents, putting mayors on the spot,
all to run up his reelection numbers so he could run for president. The
U.S. attorney`s investigation into Christie`s office continues right now.

And we`re back with our roundtable, Jonathan, Mercedes and David.

Mercedes, I look at Chris Christie`s public behavior, and I see a
bully. Now, there is a charming aspect to a bully as long as you`re not
the victim.

(LAUGHTER)

CAPEHART: Exactly!

MATTHEWS: But only because it`s good sport. But if that`s what goes
on in the back room, when he`s dealing with the mayor of Fort Lee, or
having -- putting together a team of hardball experts who say, Squeeze
those people, I have a hard time saying he had nothing to do with building
that -- remember, Nixon was never caught ordering the Watergate break-in,
but he darn well built that team of Colson and the whole rest of them.

SCHLAPP: Look, you know, I hope I`m not caught in that situation
where he tells me that shut up and sit down because that wouldn`t work
really well. And in fact, I think his style is very harsh. It might work
in Jersey. I think outside of Jersey, it gets very complicated.

MATTHEWS: Well, what do you think of his role, his defense, if he has
a public defense...

SCHLAPP: Well, so far...

MATTHEWS: ... that he wouldn`t engage himself...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHLAPP: ... that he didn`t order it, that he didn`t order...

SCHLAPP: He didn`t order it...

MATTHEWS: ... and of the (INAUDIBLE) stuff.

SCHLAPP: ... and he`s -- you know, he`s...

MATTHEWS: But it won on for days!

SCHLAPP: He took the blame.

MATTHEWS: And he was in New Jersey when it was on and...

SCHLAPP: They`re doing an investigation...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Are we to believe he wasn`t...

SCHLAPP: ... so we`ll see what the federal investigation...

CORN: Well, also...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHLAPP: ... but he`s been clean for now.

CORN: Now, well, he`s been cleared in part because two of the most
important people wouldn`t testify. They can`t pull that...

MATTHEWS: Bridget Kelly?

CORN: And -- and...

MATTHEWS: Stepien?

CORN: And the guy...

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: No...

CAPEHART: Baroni, Bill Baroni.

CORN: ... Baroni at the Port Authority. And they won`t be able to
pull the same trick when it comes to the U.S. attorney, who has the power
to compel testimony or put you in jail. So that question will be resolved.

Plus, the legislative committee wasn`t looking at some of these other
things that have come up, such as Christie leveraging Sandy funds to mayors
unless they went along with his development deals that he backed.

MATTHEWS: It shouldn`t be this way. I know it shouldn`t be this way,
Guadagno said.

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: ... anything. So if I was to give any advice to the Koch
brothers, I would say don`t invest in Christie just yet.

SCHLAPP: I don`t think they will.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: OK, let me see the (INAUDIBLE) Let`s look at this because
this is fascinating, and I want you in here. Even after "bridge-gate,"
Governor Christie`s been out there feeding the perception that he takes
pleasure in publicly destroying his opponents. A few weeks ago, he went
after a nurse who complained about his Ebola quarantine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Do you intend to maybe speak to her, talk to her?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I don`t. (INAUDIBLE) I have no
reason to talk to her.

QUESTION: Is it possible...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... you`re on the wrong side of science but the right side
of public opinion?

CHRISTIE: No, I`m going to be on the right side of both, ultimately,
Matt.

QUESTION: You`re going to have to defend this in court.

CHRISTIE: Well, whatever. Get in line. I`ve been sued lots of times
before. Get in line. I`m happy to take it on. She was inside the
hospital in a climate-controlled area, with access to her cell phone,
access to the Internet and take-out food from the best restaurants in
Newark. She was doing just fine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: From take-out food from the best restaurants in Newark!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, then he had (INAUDIBLE) took on a former city
councilman for protesting his Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: I`d be more than happy to have a debate with you any time
you like, guy, because somebody like you, who doesn`t know a damn thing
about what you`re talking about, except to stand up and show off when the
cameras are here! I`ve been here when the cameras aren`t here, buddy, and
done the work! I`ve been here when the cameras weren`t here and did the
work!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

CHRISTIE: So I`m glad you had your day to show off, but we`re the
ones who are here to actually do the work. So turn around, get your 15
minutes of fame, and then maybe take your jacket off, roll up your sleeves
and do something for the people of this state! So listen, you want to have
the conversation later, I`m happy to have it, buddy. But until that time,
sit down and shut up!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well said.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: ... I`m here when the cameras aren`t on. It opens the
question, what`s he like when the cameras aren`t on? Is he the same
personality -- Get that God-damn mayor, you get him on the line, you tell
him he doesn`t get any bridge money? We`re going to -- I mean, what...

CAPEHART: It strains credulity that he wouldn`t be the same person.

And I`m -- I`m saddened that you didn`t include my own argument with
Governor Christie with "Morning Joe" when we were arguing about same-sex
marriage, where he said -- where he shouted me down.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Replay it. Replay it for us right now, this very moment.

CAPEHART: Oh, I can`t do it. There was a lot of -- there was a lot
of back and forth.

But, again, either the governor wants us to believe that he`s a
micromanager, pedal-to-the-metal, on top of it, political allies and
enemies and so forth and so forth...

MATTHEWS: That`s what he is selling.

CAPEHART: ... or he`s incompetent in allowing staffers to go well
beyond their authority. I`m having a hard time -- hard time believing the
incompetent piece.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I am too.

CAPEHART: If -- what we just saw in that last clip plays well in the
New York tristate area, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut. Throw in
Pennsylvania. Throw in...

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: I`m not sure Connecticut. I`m not sure Connecticut.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHLAPP: Reality TV, it works great on reality TV. But beyond
that...

CAPEHART: But I have to say, if Chris Christie thinks he`s going to
be President Christie with an act like that...

SCHLAPP: Right.

CAPEHART: ... he should have a conversation with President Giuliani.
There`s no such thing.

Giuliani was as bombastic as mayor of New York City for eight years.
He tried to run for president. How`d that work out for him?

MATTHEWS: You`re really good.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I think that is perfectly fine. I don`t think I can add to
that. That`s exactly right. He`s -- he`s auditioning for president of the
United States in that manner.

SCHLAPP: And he`s raised -- I mean, he`s raised millions of dollars
for the Republican Governors Association.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Why are the big guys -- why are big shots in the Republican
Party putting bets on him? Because they seem to still do that.

SCHLAPP: You know, I think it`s a sliver -- it`s a sliver of
individuals.

I mean, the field is so large, between Jeb Bush, Marco, Jindal.

MATTHEWS: I know.

SCHLAPP: You name it, we have got governors and senators to spare
that are going to run. But...

CORN: Well, I think they`re worried about not those people. They`re
worried about Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. And they see him as the guy who can
take them on.

And once upon a time, you remember people talked about his appeal to
Democrats.

SCHLAPP: And independents.

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: That he used to talk about working together, being not an
ideologue, although he is...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... research. So, apparently, back then, when Romney was
thinking of putting him on the ticket when he was running...

CORN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: ... he discovered there were some problems. Right? Do you
think he might use those problems against him next time?

(LAUGHTER)

CORN: Well, that -- that opposition book is rather thick. And if
Romney doesn`t use it, somebody else will.

MATTHEWS: And, therefore -- but I keep thinking Romney is going to be
the nominee after all this is over.

CORN: No, no.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Look, I`m pretty good at this.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHLAPP: I don`t think...

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: No.

MATTHEWS: OK. OK.

(LAUGHTER)

SCHLAPP: We`re there. We agree. I don`t think he`s going to...

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: He`s not going to run.

MATTHEWS: OK. It`s easy to do this, but I always shoot the moon.
And I think in this case they`re dying for a middle-of-the-road centrist
conservative. I think they want to win.

CAPEHART: It`s not going to be Romney if they want to win.

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: They will beg Jeb Bush before they settle for Mitt Romney.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I think Romney`s going to beat him in the polls.

CAPEHART: They didn`t even like him the last time.

CORN: I know.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I think -- I think Romney`s going to beat Jeb in the polls.
You will see.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, just mark my words.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, the roundtable is coming back. It`s coming back.
We are going to talk about a lot of things.

HARDBALL, the place for politics. Come on back with us.

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE")

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": Just outside the White House
tonight, President Obama lit the National Christmas Tree.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Five, four, three, two,
one.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

KIMMEL: Isn`t that beautiful? It`s the only thing his wife lets him
light anymore.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Time now for the "Sideshow."

Anyway, President Obama and the first family did join in the
festivities to light the National Christmas Tree. And the celebration was
complete with Santa Claus, Christmas carols and some dancing by the
president of the United States. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, some would call that -- well, they might call that
dad dancing at its finest.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, but the president managed redeem himself with this
latest news. He will be one of Stephen Colbert`s final guests as "The
Colbert Report" begins its wind-down toward its last episode on December 18
next week. The host made the announcement last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": It`s a great night.

If you watched my show on Monday night, or tried to pretend you
weren`t watching it at work on Tuesday...

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: ... then you know I`m taking my show down to Washington,
D.C. It`s a one-night-only special this Monday.

"Stephen Colbert Presents, Mr. Colbert Goes to Washington, D.C., Ya
Later, Legislation, Partisan is Such Sweet Sorrow, A Colbert Victory Lap
`014."

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

COLBERT: Of course, the highlight is that I lined up one of my
favorite `90s alternative bands, the Presidents of the United States of
America, to play their hit song "Peaches." Unfortunately, there was a bit
of a mixup, and I did not book the band. I booked the actual president of
the United States of America.

Barack Obama is going to be my guest.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

COLBERT: Oh, yes.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

COLBERT: Nation, I cannot overstate how huge this is.

The size of the hugeness, large.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: I am so honored to be sitting down with the man who sat down
with Bill O`Reilly.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, the president actually sat down with me a year ago
today, actually.

Obama will appear, or the president will, with "the Colbert Show" next
Monday. That`s December 8.

Up next, the economy is creating lots of new jobs. The Dow is at an
all-time high, near 18000 tonight, yet American people, the people out
there are still feeling the squeeze because the cost of living is up, while
wages are flat as a board. What can the Democrats do to help those who are
struggling? That`s the biggest question politically of our time, I think.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger.
Here`s what`s happening.

Protests are under way in major cities across the country on this, the
third day since the grand jury in Staten Island, New York, decided not to
indict a white police officer in the chokehold death of unarmed black man
Eric Garner.

President Obama welcomed newly elected governors to the Oval Office.
Discussions focused on ways state and federal government can work together.

And William and Kate are coming to America. The duke and duchess are
scheduled to arrive in New York on Sunday. On Monday, Prince William will
head to the White House for a meeting with the president -- back to
HARDBALL.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Last month, America`s
businesses created more than 300,000 jobs. Now, this keeps a pace so far
this year that we have not seen since the 1990s.

So far this year, over the first 11 months of 2014, our economy has
created 2.65 million jobs. That`s more than in any entire year since the
1990s. Our businesses have now created 10.9 million jobs over the past 57
months in a row. And that`s the longest streak of private sector job
growth on record.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was of course President Obama with good news on the jobs front
today. But the middle class continues to be squeezed. Americans are
seeing their bills soar for life expenses. Costs have risen in nearly
everything, from health care, to electricity, tuition, everything. They
have had slash their budgets on child care, elderly care for their parents
and certainly for any kind of dining out or going to the movies.

One very prominent Democrat says that they regret, the Democratic
Party does, not doing more to help the middle class when they had the
chance, rather than going for health care. That was Chuck Schumer. And
here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: After passing the stimulus,
Democrats should have continued to propose middle-class-oriented programs
and built on the partial success of the stimulus.

But, unfortunately, Democrats blew the opportunity the American people
gave them. We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong
problem, health care reform. People thought -- and I understand this --
lots of people thought, this is the one opportunity to do. It`s very
important to do. And we should have done it.

We just shouldn`t have done it first. We were in the middle of the
recession, people were hurting and said, what about me? I`m losing my job,
it`s not health care that bothers me. What about me? My income is
declining. I can`t do the things I used to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s skip why he`s doing it, except to go to the
root reality he`s getting to. People feel that they have been overlooked.
They feel that their concerns about the economy have been overlooked for
the president`s agenda, rather than him meeting their agenda.

That`s the politics about it. We can talk about what Chuck Schumer
and what he is up to, but the root reality is there.

CORN: Yes. Yes. What he`s not taking into account, though, is that
there was a stimulus bill that could have been bigger, but the Republicans
said...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But what about his point? He`s trying to touch something
that the president hasn`t touched.

CORN: But the question is, what would he have the president do? Did
he want more infrastructure built out? Did he want to have more tax relief
for the middle class and working Americans, which there was plenty of in
the stimulus bill?

MATTHEWS: You`re talking remedies now. I`m talking about symptom.
Why is he out there hitting the president on his number one historic agenda
item to make a point he thinks is bigger?

SCHLAPP: Because they lost hugely in the midterm elections.

MATTHEWS: OK.

SCHLAPP: And the main issue that came out in the exit polls was the
economy, for whatever reason. You see the GDP both, the Dow is doing
great. But the middle class is looking at their lives and saying, I can`t
pay my bills, my wages are stagnant.

And guess what? The Democrats just simply ran out -- OK, we`re just
going to raise the federal minimum wage here.

MATTHEWS: I agree...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHLAPP: They really didn`t have a very complete economic agenda.

You have seen on the side of the Republicans where they have been
trying to pass these job bills.

CORN: Oh.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHLAPP: And Obama, with the regulations, you`re talking that it`s
been choking small businesses which, as we know, has provided thousands, if
not millions of jobs.

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: All these choked businesses did a pretty good job the past few
months.

SCHLAPP: Small businesses. We`re not talking about the large
corporations. The small businesses have been...

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: The Republicans say...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHLAPP: Obamacare has thrown -- between Obamacare and the
regulations, employers have decided that they are going to hire more part-
timers than full-timers. Guess what? Then you have the young -- these
guys coming out of college, they can`t get jobs. They`re stuck. And then
people aren`t, you know, getting raises.

So, it`s a very...

CORN: But the Republican strategy has been to just say cut taxes and
cut regulations.

It didn`t work in the Bush years. In fact, that`s what he had running
up to the recession that put us in the straits we are in today. But the
issue that Obama and the Democrats have, which I will agree with you on, is
that it`s hard for them to come up with policy prescriptions that address
the specific issue.

All the economic gains we have had in the past few years have gone
mainly to the top 1 percent. The Dow is great. Their 401(k)s are great.
You go to a place like the Hamptons, they`re not hurting.

So how do you get that money spread out? Is it by cutting taxes for
the rich? Is it by getting rid of regulations? I don`t see that as
distributing...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, why not cutting taxes for the middle?

SCHLAPP: Right.

CORN: Well, that`s what Obama has done. His first year in office, he
gave a tax cut to the 90 percent bottom part of the income range. And yet
most Americans...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Anybody remember that?

CAPEHART: No, they don`t remember it.

MATTHEWS: Why don`t we let Jonathan in?

(CROSSTALK)

CAPEHART: They don`t remember that.

MATTHEWS: I think everybody agrees that the crunch is real.

CORN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: If you just look at the numbers that people have to deal
with who are watching right now, they know that inflation has probably
matched any increase in their job, wage, anything they have gotten in wage
increases. It`s probably been overrun, trumped by inflation.

CORN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: So then they look at just going to the movies, which I love
to do, because I`m an empty nester now, Kathleen and I. So, for $12 -- or
for the seniors among us, it`s eight bucks.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: But that`s still a lot of money when you throw in the
popcorn and the Coke. These are little things. People go to the movies
every two or three weeks maybe, if they`re lucky.

You can`t go to dinner anymore. The idea of having festivity in your
life is pretty hard now. So you go down to the basics. Tuition, if you`re
still raising kids who have to go to college, it`s unbelievable. There`s
colleges that cost $65,000 a year now.

CAPEHART: But there`s another thing that you haven`t put in this list
is health care costs.

One of the reasons why Americans` wages are -- were shrinking or
stagnant is because health care costs were going through the roof.

MATTHEWS: Well, what has Obamacare done to that?

CAPEHART: And when the president was pushing the Affordable Care Act,
one of the main pillars of his argument was, we have to do this in order to
bend the cost curve, which is happening. The deficit is shrinking.

(CROSSTALK)

CAPEHART: Premiums, yes, they are going to go up, but not nearly as -
- by nearly as much as they would have without the Affordable Care Act.

It`s not...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Was he right to go to affordable care, rather than deal
with the economic problem?

(CROSSTALK)

CAPEHART: Yes. I agree with David. He did deal with the middle
class and middle-class issues. I think it is sort of terrific...

SCHLAPP: No, he didn`t.

(CROSSTALK)

CAPEHART: ... terrific for Senator Schumer, who is a brilliant
political strategist, to use hindsight to say, this is what we should have
done.

CORN: The payroll tax cut, which he had a fight with the Republicans
to extend...

CAPEHART: Right.

CORN: ... was one of the biggest middle-class tax cuts there was.
And it was actually stimulative.

CAPEHART: Right.

CORN: And that`s why he pushed it. That`s why he agreed to the Bush
tax cuts for the rich, to extend them, because he was thinking about the
middle class.

CAPEHART: Right. Right.

CORN: So Schumer`s -- his history is wrong on policy.

Now, in terms of what the president did in selling this, I think I and
a lot of other people would agree he never sold the fact that this is what
he was doing.

CAPEHART: Exactly.

CORN: And I have talked to Axelrod and other people in the White
House again and again: Why does the public not get this?

And they will fess up that they haven`t made that point well.

CAPEHART: It`s not the policy. It`s the salesmanship.

SCHLAPP: It`s not trickling down to the middle class.

MATTHEWS: Once he got the stimulus, he shut up.

CORN: Well, he didn`t keep selling it the way he needed --

CAPEHART: Right, right.

MATTHEWS: Reagan was very good on the strategy. He would say, cut
taxes in 1981, and then for the next seven years of his presidency, he
would say, "our program". In other words, it`s an ongoing thing, our
program. He knew how to sell in perpetuity, not just that year.

Anyway, the roundtable is staying with us.

And when we come back -- by the way, I want to know what Chuck Schumer
is up (ph). "Rolling Stone" backs off its big story about a woman who says
-- a college student who says she was gang raped at a University of
Virginia fraternity party. That`s got some factual problems right now.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, tomorrow may be the end of the line for one of the
last Southern Democrats in the U.S. Senate. Louisiana holds its run-off
election tomorrow, and incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu is the heavy
underdog in her battle with Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy. A Cassidy
victory would be the ninth Republican pickup this year, and it would give
the GOP a 54-46 advantage next year in the U.S. Senate.

You can say that national Democrats long ago gave up on Landrieu`s
seat, airing just a hundred TV ads since the November 4th primary, versus
the roughly 6,000 pro-Cassidy ads. That`s a rough ratio.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Two weeks ago, a "Rolling Stone" article with this headline
got worldwide attention, "A rape on campus."

It was about the rape of a University of Virginia student who was
identified only by the name Jackie. Well, today "Rolling Stone" magazine
backed off the story. In a letter to readers, the managing editor wrote,
quote, "There now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie`s account. And we
have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced", close
quote.

Well, it was a stunning turn in the story that had the country
talking.

And I`m back with Jonathan, Mercedes and David.

Jonathan, you`re an editor. You write opinion pieces. You deal with
the editing process. You did all that.

What went wrong here? I mean, discrepancies is too euphemistic.
Facts were wrong.

CAPEHART: Yes.

MATTHEWS: The data of the accused, of the alleged rape, which is
almost a capital crime -- used to be one -- is wrong. The fact that these
two people worked together is wrong. The fact that the person who was
accused of this act of -- felony act, didn`t work at the place they said he
did.

CAPEHART: Yes, I mean, if I had written that story and handed it to
our extremely capable people in "The Washington Post" editorial opinion
page copy desk, it would never have run. They would have asked me after
they had done their own hunt reporting.

So, what was the date of this? You don`t have it in the story. Did
the guy -- did they work together? Did you even talk to the people Jackie
is accusing?

You haven`t done any of those things?

MATTHEWS: And if you had said you had a ground rule that we wouldn`t
go to them, what would they say?

CAPEHART: They would say, are you out of your mind? You can`t do
that, one, journalistically; or two, put the paper in a position --

MATTHEWS: So, why is a highly credible magazine like "Rolling Stone,"
which is a highly credible, journalistic piece there, that used to have
people, Greider working for them, Bill Greider. What happened?

CORN: You know, I`ve been talking to my staff today. We are
completely mystified. At "Mother Jones", like a lot of magazines, we have
a really severe fact-checking department, and severe fact-checkers, often
we don`t like what they put us through.

CAPEHART: It`s like going to the cops.

CORN: It`s really not a lot of fun.

And how this got through -- now, the sad thing is it`s really an
important issue, right? What goes on campus, sexual assault. And the fact
they felt they had to lead with this horrific story. It wasn`t like a
usual one-person rape. It was a gang rape, obviously a lot of dramatic
value there, but they sacrificed journalist being integrity by not going
through the steps, by letting the reporter cut a very odd deal with the
subject, about not going to the accused, even if you`re not going to name
them, but at least hearing their side.

This goes down in the annals of Steven Glass at "The New Republic",
Janet Cook at "The Washington Post". It`s not the reporter making things
up, but it is -

CAPEHART: Jayson Blair at "The New York Times."

CORN: Jayson Blair at "The New York Times".

MATTHEWS: Jayson Blair, let me ask you about the damage -- first of
all, I was never in an fraternity, but I`ve always envied guys who were.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I guess I saw "Animal House" a hundred times.

But I know there`s a lack of discipline, it`s pretty free-fall, what
you do there. But this has been so seriously taken by the University of
Virginia people, that they basically shut down fraternity life.

SCHLAPP: Absolutely. And the president spoke about the issue and,
you know, they were doing --

MATTHEWS: She did?

SCHLAPP: -- investigations as well. She spoke about this.

So, yes, it gives fraternity -- it also does give fraternity the bad
rap, which maybe in some cases, they said we don`t do hazing. This did not
happen. And the mere fact that the "Rolling Stone" and this author went
out and said, I`m not going to talk to the attacker, that to me, just blew
my mind. It`s like, how can you not go and ask the questions.

MATTHEWS: The argument was made, I don`t want to address them, she`s
not facing them.

CORN: But the reporter has a different obligation.

SCHLAPP: Exactly.

CORN: -- than the accuser or investigator or anything else. And when
you read the story, I mean, it`s easy to say this in hindsight. A lot of
us read the story and said, wow, this is really weird and odd in a lot of
ways. Why isn`t there more proof if something like this happened? Why
don`t they press the administration at UVA to say whether or not it did
happen. Because she claims she went and talked to them. So, there are a
lot of things --

MATTHEWS: Let`s go to the real criticism. It`s cultural. When I
heard about the Duke case with the African American woman who was brought
in as a stripper, which you can certainly question morally, right out
front, and socially, why are we doing that in America today, a bunch of
white guys with a black woman taking her clothes off for entertainment, but
then the accusation of rape there.

And then everybody said, well, that sounds about right. These guys
are shrocks (ph), you know, this makes, the attitude that entitled rich
kids that go to that school, to Duke. And it turns they were innocent of
the charge.

SCHLAPP: Right, right.

MATTHEWS: So, is this going to be seen as an echo of that?

SCHLAPP: And what`s so sad is --

MATTHEWS: If they`re not innocent of the charge.

SCHLAPP: Well, and what`s unfortunate is like what David`s point is,
sexual assault, it`s happening in the campuses. I mean, these women, many
of them get drugged.

MATTHEWS: Describe what goes on.

SCHLAPP: We were just talking about one to five women have reported
that they`ve been sexually assaulted.

MATTHEWS: How is that? What is sexually assaulted?

SCHLAPP: Sexually assault could be anything from if a man advances
and she says no, then it`s no. And it`s very black and white, in my
opinion.

MATTHEWS: It`s rape. It`s rape.

CAPEHART: Unwarranted.

SCHLAPP: Unwarranted act, yes. Unsolicited.

You weren`t in a fraternity, were you?

CORN: No.

So, this is a real serious issue. And now we`re not talking about it.
If you read a lot of the "Rolling Stone" article, it`s not just about this
one episode they use it to illustrate the problem and there`s a lot of
reporting and a lot of good pieces and good information within that.

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s we`re going to find something more uplifting and
I hope so. We`re coming back with the round table.

Up next, a real race that America is feeling hopeful right now, the
successful launch of the Orion spacecraft today, the first step to putting
an American on the moon -- actually, not (ph) in the moon, onto Mars --
going to Mars, or to Mars.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT: I believe that this nation should
commit itself to achieving the goal before this decade is out, of landing a
man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space
project in this period will be more impressive to mankind or more important
for the long range exploration of space.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: We had him as president once, do you believe it?

Anyway, back to HARDBALL.

That was the speech 53 years ago in which President John F. Kennedy
outlined his mission to land a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s.
When that vision was actually realize in 1969, the space program was
America`s pride and joy. Five decades later, in 2010, amid growing
skepticism and deep budget cuts at NASA, President Obama doubled down on a
new program called Orion, renewing this country`s dreams to explore the
outer regions of space.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By the mid-2030s, I
believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth.
And a land on Mars will follow, and I expect to be around to see it.

And this Orion effort will be part of the technologically foundation
for advanced spacecraft to be used in future deep space missions. In fact,
Orion will be ready for flight right here in this room.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, and this is what we saw this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Three, two, one, and liftoff at dawn -- the dawn of Orion
and the new era of American space exploration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, NASA called it -- NASA called the first test flight
of the Orion capsule, quote, "the most perfect flight you could ever
imagine", close quote.

The unmanned vehicle traveled further into space than we`ve ever
reached actually since the Apollo program ended in the 1970s, and made a
flawless re-entry after its five-hour test flight.

We`re back now with the roundtable, Jonathan, Mercedes, and David.

Mercedes, I know you`re a child. I was in Africa watching this thing,
the first landing in the moon, the whole excitement of it.

And what do you think of it?

SCHLAPP: Well, first of all, apparently, Jonathan was 2 years old.

CAPEHART: I was 2.

SCHLAPP: I wasn`t born yet.

CORN: I was.

SCHLAPP: You know, what it reminds me again the greatness of America.
We haven`t heard about the space program in years. In years.

MATTHEWS: Sing it. Sing it. I love it. Keep it up.

SCHLAPP: I mean, I remember growing up and thinking, gosh, wouldn`t
it be so fascinating to go to the moon or be an astronaut. I mean, that --
those were the words you would hear.

MATTHEWS: Do great things.

SCHLAPP: Exactly. It was that sort of American greatness, that
inspiration of what America can do. That`s what President Kennedy proposed
when he said we`re going to send a man to the moon.

And so, it was almost invigorating to watch Orion, you know, go up and
be a successful launch. And I think it`s promising. It`s something that I
think brings both parties together.

MATTHEWS: Can we beat the Russians? Do you know what the Russians do
these days so they can do this (INAUDIBLE)? They beat at the Ukrainians.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: We show we`re great because we do this kind of stuff. They
do it by beating up the little people --

SCHLAPP: That`s right.

CORN: There are a lot of things I think get wrapped on this. I love
science. I love the space program. On my third birthday, I ran to the
window to see John Glen orbit, didn`t see him but I know he was up there.

MATTHEWS: Just over your house.

CORN: Just over my house.

What`s great about this is, what is this? This is the private
enterprise project? No, this is the government. This is the U.S.
government setting a big, bold priority and making it happen. It`s
science. It`s pro-science. These days, our political debates go between
those who believe in science and those who don`t believe in science.

MATTHEWS: You know what else? A lot of government employees.
Government employees are doing this -- regular, public servants who are not
big shots. We don`t know their names.

CORN: They don`t get paid a lot.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: They do this for the world.

CAPEHART: And one thing to keep in mind, when the space shuttle
program was eliminated, there were a lot of long faces around the country,
and particularly at NASA, it was a huge step backwards.

But what we saw today is a huge step forward. Yes, the Orion capsule
is smaller than the space shuttle. Yes, the mission was only, what, 4 1/2,
5 hours, 5 1/2 hours, where the space shuttles were days and billions and
billons of dollars. But I think that this step forward that we`re looking
at here is going to pay off dividends that we don`t even know yet, which is
what we had no idea --

MATTHEWS: More Tang coming.

CAPEHART: Hopefully, not more Tang.

CORN: Something better, the next Tang.

SCHLAPP: The sugar-free Tang.

CAPEHART: Something that will advance the country forward. But also,
not just he country but the world. I mean, you made the point about the
Russians show their strength by invading their neighbors. We show our
strength by doing something like this that won`t just benefit us.

MATTHEWS: Look at it coming down. There it is. It all happens in a
day while we`re doing our stuff.

CORN: A probe landed on a comet not too long ago. I mean, this is
really exciting stuff. I think it gets kids excited. It makes us think
about how to do big things, big, scientific things. Things that are based
in fact and research. So, we`re going to be able to do this. We have to
fund research education, and all those other things.

MATTHEWS: You`re a very impressive man. A man who grew up in science
all around him and can play jazz piano like nobody I know. I`ve seen that
myself.

Thank you, Jonathan Capehart.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: My friend. Thank you, Mercedes Schlapp, and David Corn.
Great trio tonight.

And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us for this Friday
night show.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" begins right now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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