updated 3/6/2015 2:22:58 PM ET 2015-03-06T19:22:58

Show: HARDBALL
Date: March 5, 2015
Guest: Anne Gearan, Michael Schmidt, James Clyburn, Steve McMahon, James
Lipton, Ryan Grim, Elahe Izadi, Steve Clemons, Keir Simmons

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Madam secretary, you`ve got mail.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

And "Let Me Start" tonight with Hillary Clinton`s counterattack on the
e-mail story. After two days of front page focus in the big newspapers,
she tweeted this just before midnight. "I want the public to see my e-
mail. I asked State to release them. They said they will review them for
release as soon as possible."

What does that message on tweet (sic) actually mean? She wants us to
see her messages sent on a private server that she set up? Will that kind
of retort answer the likes of "The New York Times," "The Washington Post,"
"USA Today," the Associated Press, the House Select Committee on Benghazi?
Will this whole inquiry get buried under 55,000 pages of self-selected e-
mail?

Let`s find out. Joining me right now is Michael Schmidt, the "New
York Times" reporter who broke this original story, and Anne Gearan,
reporter with "The Washington Post."

See if you can, for the person who`s from Pluto right now, the Hillary
lover, the Hillary hater -- there`s a lot of both out there. And people
just want to know what this is about. What is the motive for setting up a
separate server if you`re going to work at the State Department? Now,
we`re told by the administration that there are rules you shouldn`t have
this, you should use government e-mail. Why would somebody for any
nefarious reason set up a private e-mail system, in fact, create the
server?

MICHAEL SCHMIDT, "NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I don`t know what the
intentions were, but let me tell you...

MATTHEWS: Well, why is it important, then...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... intentions are?

SCHMIDT: It shielded her e-mails for a significant period of time
from Freedom of Information Requests and from Congress because it wasn`t
being searched when the State Department was asked for documents. It was
not on their servers. It was on her personal server, so they couldn`t get
to it and they couldn`t hand it over.

MATTHEWS: But the policy of the administration, according to your
paper, is that they should have their communications -- not their letters
home, Are we having chicken tonight, not that, but the professional
business is all supposed to be on e-mail that could be in the possession of
the U.S. government.

ANNE GEARAN, "WASHINGTON POST": Right. I mean, the State Department
is splitting hairs here. They`re saying it was the policy to do government
work on government e-mail, but there was no prohibition at the time that
she was secretary against using private e-mail or commercial e-mail...

MATTHEWS: Well, did somebody come to her...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... Madam Secretary, congratulations, you`re now the
secretary of state, you have to do everything on e-mail -- government e-
mail? Did anybody ever tell her that?

GEARAN: We don`t know and State won`t say. We think that it would
have made -- only made sense that any number of people whose jobs it was at
the State Department to run the place and to render legal opinions on how
it should be run would have or should have weighed in. But there`s no
paper trail that we`ve got yet, and State hasn`t yet said whether that
happened or who did it or what was the result.

MATTHEWS: Is the toothpaste out of the tube in terms of anybody, "The
Washington Post," "The New York Times," any congressional committee, the
FBI -- is it possible now to retrieve all the e-mail that was sent by
Secretary Clinton and received by Secretary Clinton of official business
when she was secretary of state, or once she got it in her possession, she
was allowed to delete what she wanted, and it`s permanently deleted?

SCHMIDT: Well, the...

MATTHEWS: Can you get to the bottom line here, or is it lost now?

SCHMIDT: No. The closest thing you could get to was to be -- would
be to have access to her entire account. Remember, she gave 50,000 pages
to the State Department...

MATTHEWS: Out of how many?

SCHMIDT: Well...

GEARAN: We don`t know.

SCHMIDT: ... that she said were related to her work as secretary of
state.

MATTHEWS: Who decided what was...

SCHMIDT: She chose.

MATTHEWS: Personally?

SCHMIDT: She -- they said to her, Give us your e-mails related to
your work, and she came in, October, December, said, Here are 50,000 e-
mails from my account related to my work. Here they are. It wasn`t,
Here`s my personal account, go find the stuff that relates to my work. You
do it.

MATTHEWS: Well, that proves -- that just demonstrates the fact that
she had power over what information to give to anybody.

GEARAN: Right. Right. So I mean, the...

MATTHEWS: Well, everybody would want that.

GEARAN: The two central questions I have are why was it set up this
way, what was the purpose of it, and when State asked her for the relevant
e-mail, who decided, and on what basis, what was relevant to turn over? We
know that 55,000 pages was turned over. That`s not the individual e-mails,
that`s pages.

And we know as of today that about 90 percent of that was between
Hillary Clinton and people who worked at the State Department, who had e-
mail addresses that end in state.gov -- that`s according to an aide for
Hillary Clinton -- that about 10 percent was between Hillary Clinton and
other people. Those are other government addresses, White House addresses,
other agency addresses and people who did not have government addresses or
who weren`t using...

MATTHEWS: So there`s no record of that.

GEARAN: What we don`t know is what -- how many pages beyond the
55,000.

MATTHEWS: OK. From the -- from the -- just before we get into the
sharpshooting here from the Republicans, I want to get to the objective
people. Hillary Clinton was critical of the White House when she was first
lady. She was critical of Karl Rove, actually, when she was secretary of
state, critical of the fact that they had this sort of under -- under --
underground e-mail system there. So if you`re watching this show and
you`re pro-Hillary, you must have been pro-Hillary when she was taking
shots at Karl Rove for doing the thing that she`s accused of doing now, or
is doing now, right?

SCHMIDT: Correct.

MATTHEWS: So in other words, both sides, R`s and D`s, Republicans and
Democrats, have when it was in their political interests, pointed out
there`s something wrong with having a private e-mail subway, basically, to
run stuff by. Isn`t that an objective statement?

GEARAN: Right. Yes. Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: That`s what I`m trying to get to. Anyway, Republicans --
now we get to the Republicans because they have their own plans.
Republicans are circulating comments that Hillary Clinton made in 2007 when
she criticized the Bush administration`s use of private e-mails when it was
discovered that Karl Rove, an enemy of most Democrats and others in the
administration, were using RNC, Republican National Committee, accounts for
official business.

And here`s Secretary Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, FMR. FIRST LADY: Now people feel invisible. And not
only do they feel invisible, they have reason to believe that they are
being rendered invisible. You know, our Constitution is being shredded.
We know about the secret wiretaps. We know about the secret military
tribunals, the secret White House e-mail accounts...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, they`ve also dug up a State Department inspector
general report during Clinton`s tenure which criticized the U.S. ambassador
to Kenya -- I believe he`s a political appointment -- for bad behavior,
including his use of e-mail, private e-mail. That led to his resignation
as ambassador to Kenya. It says, quote, "He drafted and distributed a
mission policy authorizing himself and other mission personnel to use
commercial e-mail for daily communication of official government business.
During the inspector, the ambassador continued to use commercial e-mail for
official government business. It was a flouting of direct instructions to
adhere to department policy."

Department policy...

GEARAN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: ... State Department policy.

GEARAN: (INAUDIBLE) ordered that a private e-mail system and private
computer system be installed in his bathroom so that he could use it in
parallel to the one at the embassy because he thought the one at the
embassy wasn`t sufficient. He was fired for that and other things, but...

MATTHEWS: Did Hillary -- did Secretary Clinton, his boss, know that
he was fired for that reason?

GEARAN: Of course, I would think. I mean, he was a high-level
political appointee. He was a friend of President Obama`s. She was -- I`m
sure she knew him and would have known exactly why he was fired. One of
the stated reasons was misuse of e-mail. So clearly, there was a policy,
and clearly, it was being applied.

MATTHEWS: It`s not -- it`s one of these stories about her -- I know
you guys write front page stories, and you`ve got to be antiseptically
nonpartisan. But if you were looking at this from a distance, you`d say,
This is another one of those sort of -- look at this blotch on this map, on
this piece of paper. What does this mean? And a lot of people will look
at this story and say Hillary is obsessed with secrecy, with privacy, she
doesn`t trust the public with her information, she will go around the
system so she can have her own -- an entire e-mail system of her own that
she doesn`t share with the public, even if it`s against the rules.

Others will say, What`s this -- you guys` problem with the media?
People around here, some of them say, What`s the media obsession, front
page story writers, about Hillary? What do you say...

SCHMIDT: Well...

MATTHEWS: ... when the ombudsman comes to you...

SCHMIDT: ... the narrative...

MATTHEWS: ... with these questions, if there is one?

SCHMIDT: Well, it`s a story, and we just have to move with the story.

MATTHEWS: I have to explain that to people around here.

SCHMIDT: It`s just (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: Sometimes, when your eyes catch a story, you go with it.

Anyway, "The Washington Post" ran this headline last night, and Clint
-- the Clinton -- "Amid the Clinton controversies, Democrats yearn for an
alternative"? I think they`re ahead of their skis on this. One of the
vice president -- that`s Vice President Biden`s biggest supporters, former
South Carolina party chair Dick Harpootlian, sees an opening for the
field."

He wrote (ph) to "The Post," "There`s always another shoe to drop with
Hillary. Do we nominate her, not knowing what`s in those e-mails? She`s
going to die by a thousand cuts on this one. I`ll tell you this, he ain`t
got no e-mail problems" -- he`s talking about Biden -- "He ain`t got no
foundation problems," like the Clinton Foundation. "What you see with Joe
is what you get, and there`s nothing hidden there."

Well, that`s sort of down home talk. Anyway, meanwhile, to put things
back in perspective politically, a new Quinnipiac poll shows Hillary
Clinton with a dominant lead over the field. She`s at 56 percent. Her
nearest challenger isn`t the vice president, it`s, of course, Elizabeth
Warren. Anybody watching this show knows that.

So this story is interesting, but what it says to me is -- how hard
have you fought to get Hillary, and who do you talk to when you want
reaction before you go to deadline at night? Who do you try to get to with
these questions you`re raising?

SCHMIDT: Well, we tried very hard to get to her spokespeople...

MATTHEWS: Who is that? Nick Merrill (ph)?

SCHMIDT: Right now, it`s a guy named Nick Merrill. And they really
didn`t want to engage us that much. And I don`t think that they totally
either appreciated the story or wanted...

MATTHEWS: Who`s "they"?

SCHMIDT: ... to talk to us.

MATTHEWS: Who is the "they" in the Clinton circle now, can you tell?
Who`s in the room with her?

SCHMIDT: I`m new to Clinton world. This is my first experience...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... who bunch of people -- what happened to Philippe Reines
(ph)? He`s always been there. How many of them are there?

GEARAN: He`s not officially part of the campaign now, but...

MATTHEWS: Well, is there a campaign?

GEARAN: That`s part of the problem. There isn`t yet an official
organization that has a whole kind of rapid response and would be on this,
you know, two nights ago, and -- and...

MATTHEWS: Well, who are these phantoms, that when somebody like David
Axelrod, who`s a good guy, says something about how, you know, John Podesta
will be good to get them to act together over there, and (INAUDIBLE) comes
these unnamed sources, saying, He better watch himself. I mean, who are
these people in Clinton world who speak without names?

SCHMIDT: Well, what doesn`t make sense is that they have known about
this for many, many months...

MATTHEWS: Did they drop it?

SCHMIDT: ... that the -- they`ve...

MATTHEWS: They did it -- let me try a couple theories. Did you get
this from oppo from the Republicans?

SCHMIDT: No, this was...

MATTHEWS: Did you get it from...

SCHMIDT: ... much harder...

MATTHEWS: ... the Clinton people trying to put it out ahead of time?

SCHMIDT: No. This was much harder...

MATTHEWS: Just enterprise on your part.

SCHMIDT: Yes, just...

MATTHEWS: Just enterprise, sheer enterprise.

SCHMIDT: Shoe leather.

MATTHEWS: There`s nobody out there pushing the story.

GEARAN: No, and there`s a -- there`s a narrative...

MATTHEWS: Nobody pushing the story on the R side...

(CROSSTALK)

GEARAN: Well, they are now that it`s out there.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... the information...

GEARAN: No, I mean, that was a clean break. I mean, that was -- the
Republicans had nothing to do with it, and that`s become a narrative now on
the Democratic side, is that this is a manufactured story that the
Republicans are pushing and that the media is biting on. And I -- that`s
just not the way it happened.

MATTHEWS: So David Brock and company are not right that you were
pushed around by the right wing?

SCHMIDT: The select committee has known about this for many months,
and they haven`t done anything.

MATTHEWS: That`s a hell of a story. I would never have thought a
story like this would be front page for all these days, but thank you,
Michael Schmidt of "The New York Times," and Anne Gearan of "The Washington
Post."

I must add something tonight, by the way. It`s important in my
position here to be as transparent as possible with you, our loyal viewers,
and I want to share a personal -- you can see I`m smiling about some
political news that came out just this morning.

People are always so kind when I -- when we meet out there at
airports, anywhere else, about my wife, Kathleen, my queen. Well, last
night, Kathleen decided she`s going to take a serious look at running for
the United States Congress from where we live in Maryland. Our local
congressman -- a very good guy, by the way -- just announced he`s running
for the U.S. Senate.

And this development is all unfolding very quickly. Kathleen and I
have not had much time to talk about it. Right now, she`s on a business
trip overseas, heading for Berlin to South Africa right now. But I know
she`s been involved with public issues her entire career, from anchoring
the news to serving as a top executive of Marriott. I know her commitment
runs truly deep.

In our nearly four decades together, Kathleen and I, I`ve always had
the strongest belief in her judgment and values. I am proud of her and
support her. And if she does indeed decide to run for Congress, then we
will make sure we continue to fully disclose my relationship, which I`ve
never denied, with her as part of our commitment here at MSNBC to be
transparent and fair in our coverage. So for that.

Coming up, the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march in Selma,
Alabama. The president will be in Selma this weekend commemorating the
event that helped lead to passage, of course, of the great Voting Rights
Act of 1965. U.S. Congressman James Clyburn will be here to talk about it.
He`s going to join me in a moment.

Plus, who are the genius actors of our time? Well, here`s a sample.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You talking to me? You talking to me? You
talking to me? Then who the hell else are you talking to? Are you talking
to me? Well, I`m the only one here.

MERYL STREEP, ACTRESS: So you don`t read "Runway."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

STREEP: And before today, you had never heard of me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

STREEP: And you have no style or sense of fashion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that depends on what your...

STREEP: No, no. That wasn`t a question.

AL PACINO, ACTOR: Come back there, man! Get over there, will you?
He wants to kill me so bad, he can taste it. Attica! Attica! Attica!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: James Lipton, host of "Inside the Actors` Studio," will be
here to give us his list of the greatest actors of all time.

Also, a new poll shows that 62 percent of Americans support putting
boots on the ground in Iraq to fight ISIS. Do you believe it? It`s grown.
It turns out there are already boots there. They just happen to be Iranian
boots.

And finally, we`re going to have the latest on that vicious knife
attack against U.S. ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert.

And this is HARDBALL, a place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to Hardball. Thousands are expected to assemble
this weekend in Alabama to remember the 50th anniversary of the marches on
Selma when the American civil rights movement turned a corner. Prior to
that march, in 1965, the organizers were asked, what would happen if the
protests were stopped?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Ames (ph), what are you going to do if you get
stopped?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are we going to do if we get stopped? Well,
we hope we won`t get stopped, and if we get stopped, we`re going to stand
there and try to negotiate and talk them into letting us go ahead to
Montgomery. We intend to march to Montgomery if it takes us a lifetime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From Selma?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From Selma, Alabama.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS: As we all know, it did not turn out very peacefully. This
weekend, President Obama will also travel to Selma to pay tribute to - on
the Edmund Pettus bridge of course, where hundreds of peaceful
demonstrators were beaten by police in what became known as bloody Sunday.
And that crucial moment in our nation`s history helped usher in the
historic Voting Rights Act of 1965. Fifty years later, voting rights are
coming under assault again by the state legislatures, and the courts, which
begs the question, how much progress have we made since Selma? U.S.
Congressman Jim Clyburn is a Democrat from South Carolina, the former House
majority whip. 55 years ago, he was jailed for demonstrating against
segregation in his home state. Steve McMahon is a Democratic strategist.
Congressman Clyburn, thank you for coming on. What do you make of just
your chance now to talk about Selma and the movie and everything, this
whole commemoration, it`s coming back now, so strong?

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, thank you so much for
having me, Chris.

And congratulations to you and your lovely wife. I wish her well.

MATTHEWS: Thank you.

CLYBURN: Look, this is about celebrating 50-year-old issue of voting.

Selma was all about the right to vote. You may recall, Selma came
after the 1964 Civil Rights Act was passed. And President Johnson,
thinking he had done enough with the Civil Rights Act, thought we could
postpone voting for a while. But you know that old adage, you know,
justice delayed is justice denied.

And so John Lewis and others, James Forman, in spite of the fact that
the movie "Selma" seemed to think that James Forman really didn`t want to
do the march, he wanted to do the march. He just didn`t want to be
overlooked for all the efforts they had been putting into Selma.

Everything -- things were taking place for a long time before Bloody
Sunday. And they were working, laying the foundation to try to get the
right to vote. And after that march, the Voting Rights Act was passed and
signed into law, I believe it was August 6.

So come August 6 of this year will be the 50th anniversary. And I
have been working with John Lewis, trying to do what we can with
Congressman Sensenbrenner and Congressman John Conyers. We are trying to
fix what the Supreme Court seems to have dismantled with that 1965 Voting
Rights Act.

I`m hopeful that, when we leave that bridge on Sunday and go back to
Washington in a week that all the 98 congresspeople who are there will all
sign on to Mr. Sensenbrenner`s amendments, so that we can restore what the
Roberts court has done to that 1965 Voting Rights Act.

MATTHEWS: Well, Congressman, you have been through all this, from the
hell of the past to what we have today.

But what do you make of these Republicans who, even though some of
them are going to show up with you as your colleagues this weekend down in
Selma, they`re out pushing all these voter suppression efforts, these voter
I.D. requirements in states like even Pennsylvania, where you have the
leadership of the Republican legislature, which dominates the legislature,
openly saying, we`re doing this to win votes, because if we can keep the
African-American from voting, especially older people, it`s going to help
us win statewide elections.

I mean, that seems to me completely in violation of the purpose of the
Voting Rights Act, this game they`re playing about voter I.D. cards.

CLYBURN: It is violation.

And, remember, just, as 50 years ago, it took the United States
Congress to respond in a way that was favorable to the protection of
people`s rights, it may take that again today, because, remember, these are
20-some-odd individual states who are doing those things.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CLYBURN: I would hope that Congress would not just fix -- with the
amendments, fix the formula, but I would hope that we will go further with
John Lewis` bill, the Voter Empowerment Act, to take a look at all of these
schemes that they`re now developing, schemes which, if you look at them,
could be tantamount to poll taxes and other kinds of schemes that they used
back in the `40s and `50s to dilute and deny people`s votes.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well said. Thank you so much. And it`s an important
weekend. And I wish you well down there, Congressman Jim Clyburn going
down to Selma. Thanks so much for joining us tonight, sir.

CLYBURN: Thank you so much for having me.

MATTHEWS: Joining us is Steve McMahon.

Steve -- let me ask Steve McMahon about this, a couple of those
stories going.

One is, why did the Republicans get away with it so far, this voter
suppression, and doing it over and over again? Priebus and company are
doing it? Number two, what do you make of Bibi`s speech? Did he win?
And, third, for the trifecta question -- I`m pushing you here -- Hillary
Clinton, is this something she can handle, or is it just going to bother
her until she runs?

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, so, where do you want to
start?

MATTHEWS: Start with the beginning.

MCMAHON: That`s a smorgasbord.

MATTHEWS: Start with the beginning, voter suppression.

MCMAHON: Voter suppression.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Why do Republicans get away from it? It`s a black/white
issue largely, but the white people who push this thing, they don`t have
any sense of fairness.

MCMAHON: Yes.

MATTHEWS: People should all be allowed to vote.

MCMAHON: People should all be allowed to vote. And you`re right.
The Republicans are out there at every election trying to challenge people
who are minority voters, trying to challenge people who they`re trying to
frankly just keep from voting, because they care more about politics and
winning elections than they do about civil rights.

I think it`s great that there are 23 or so Republicans that are going
down for the march and I think that doing these kinds of things is probably
the best and maybe the only way to break down some of that resistance that
exists within the party.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK, Bibi, who won? Do you think he will win at home now?
Was it good politics in Israel?

MCMAHON: It was good politics in Israel.

MATTHEWS: That`s what I think.

MCMAHON: And he`s trying to turn out the right wing of the Likud
Party. I`m sure he`s going to do that. It`s good for him to be standing
and fighting with the president of the United States, because he`s swinging
up and he`s swinging up on behalf of the...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Did Boehner use that cover of all the excitement about Bibi
so he could give in on the issue of the DHS funding? Did he use the cover
of that as smokescreen? They`re all happy. They`re walking back. At 2:00
at that afternoon, he says, I`m throwing in the towel. And he got away
with it.

MCMAHON: Yes. Well, he seems to have gotten away with it.

The question is whether the Freedom Caucus, so-called, in the
Republican Party...

MATTHEWS: The right wing.

MCMAHON: The right wing is going to actually let him get away with
it. He`s gotten away with it for now.

But every time he does this and he passes things with Democratic
votes, he makes his problem on the far right worse. And, you know...

MATTHEWS: OK.

Hillary and e-mail. You have got mail, Madam Secretary. This thing -
- I never thought it would be on the front page. But it isn`t going away.

MCMAHON: It doesn`t seem to be going away.

And one of the things it demonstrates is that the campaign is already
very well under way. The Republicans understand who the Democratic nominee
is. Even as liberals pine for somebody else and the press writes, will
Elizabeth Warren or Joe Biden run, the Republicans know who is running and
who is going to win the nomination.

MATTHEWS: But they didn`t lead this fight. They`re exploiting it,
but they`re taking the obvious -- wouldn`t you take the shots, the
Republicans, if they`re front page of "the Times"?

(CROSSTALK)

MCMAHON: I watched the last segment, and apparently the Republicans
aren`t behind this. But it is -- it`s curious timing, just before her
announcement. And this is not something that Hillary Clinton or that
campaign needs right now or wants right now.

MATTHEWS: Well, they have got to be a campaign first. And it`s
starting -- they need tough people in there, men and women that can take a
tough shot and get the information out you got to get out. Anyway...

MCMAHON: They will have them.

MATTHEWS: Thank you.

MCMAHON: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Up next -- thank you, Steve McMahon.

Up next: Who do you think should be on the list of the most genius
actors of our time? James Lipton is coming here. We love lists in this
country. He`s going to give us the top five U.S. movie stars of all time,
the best actors, the geniuses, as part of this week.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Well, there are many similarities between Washington politicians, if
you think about it, and Hollywood actors, but if there`s one quality that
moviegoers and voters in this country expect from both of them, it`s
authenticity.

Whether on screen or on the stump, you know it when you see it. As
part of the 7 Days of Genius Festival this week, we`re exploring the
people, ideas and leaders who have changed the world.

And tonight we look at movie actors who might be considered geniuses
in their craft.

I`m joined right now by an expert, James Lipton, host of "Inside the
Actors Studio" on Bravo.

James, thanks for telling us what a genius is in movie acting. So,
what is a genius?

JAMES LIPTON, HOST, "INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO": Well, first of all, I
think a genius is -- it`s inborn. It can`t be taught. It`s in your DNA.
That`s what you bring to the table.

Craft is what you learn. When you have great craft, really well-
taught craft, and you combine it with the talent, the genius, then you get,
well, the people we`re going to talk about in a minute.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk your first choice for best actor in terms
of.

LIPTON: This is not necessarily in this order, but I would certainly
say Marlon Brando.

Brando, I think, is the perfect definition of genius in acting. You
could never, ever outguess him. Every choice he made in every part was a
surprise. Stella Adler, who was his teacher and mine, said the talent,
that`s the genius, lies in the choice.

His choices were utterly unpredictable and, in the beginning, often
incredible and shocking, and ultimately they were inevitable, the only
possible choices.

MATTHEWS: Well, here`s a scene from -- I`m sorry -- here`s a scene
from Brando in "A Streetcar Named Desire."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: You face and your fingers are disgustingly
greasy. Go wash up and then help me clear the table.

MARLON BRANDO, ACTOR: Now, that`s how I`m going to clear the table.
Don`t you ever talk that way to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow.

Next?

LIPTON: Next would be Charlie Chaplin.

He turned humor into high art. Take a look at his features, his short
films. The quantity and quality of sheer invention that they contain has
never, ever been equaled, not by anyone, not at any time in any medium. He
is one of the great geniuses of the 20th century.

MATTHEWS: Next?

LIPTON: Next one would Al Pacino.

When the impresario Sergei Diaghilev commissioned Jean Cocteau to
design the sets and costume for a ballet, Cocteau asked him, what would you
like me to do? And Diaghilev replied, astonish me.

That`s what Pacino does in every moment of every role. Time after
time, in the process of inventing the character, he reinvents the art of
acting from the floor up.

MATTHEWS: God, it`s showing. Here he is in one of the great scenes,
I think, ever, the restaurant scene in "The Godfather."

LIPTON: Would you like to know what he told me about that scene?

MATTHEWS: I would love to know, because it was the one that won him
the part after he had gotten the part. He had to win the part with that
one, yes.

LIPTON: Exactly. Exactly.

They were going to fire him, and Coppola moved that scene up in the
shooting schedule, so that he shot the scene, and they showed the -- they
showed the dailies to the company. And the studio said, he`s got the part.
But they were really going to fire him. He didn`t know whether he had that
part or not, but he did know when he played that scene that it was live or
die.

MATTHEWS: I think, in one movie, two of the greatest scenes was that
and the hospital scene, when he goes into the hospital and realizes there
is nobody is protecting his dad and he has to fill that hospital with
protection.

Anyway, thank you.

Let me -- let`s go to De Niro in "Taxi Driver." You -- what about
him?

LIPTON: When I`m asked what I admire most in an actor, my answer is a
very simple one: risk. Nothing sums up De Niro`s work better than that
single word.

When he`s at his best, he`s on a tightrope over the Grand Canyon at
risk of revealing his naked soul. Scorsese knew that when he shot the
famous scene in the mirror.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Here he is, De Niro as Travis Bickle.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "TAXI DRIVER")

ROBERT DE NIRO, ACTOR: You talking to me? Well, I`m the only one
here. Who the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) do you think you`re talking to? Oh,
yes? Huh? OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I think everybody who`s ever been scared on a subway in the
middle of the night identifies with the desire to be able to just take on
the guy that`s coming at you and win the fight.

LIPTON: You talking to me.

MATTHEWS: One last, a woman, finally, sir, one out of five, not bad,
although a little out of date.

LIPTON: It`s not my fault.

MATTHEWS: One out of five.

(CROSSTALK)

LIPTON: That`s the way the movies stack it.

MATTHEWS: OK. OK.

Let`s go, Meryl Streep, of course.

LIPTON: Meryl Streep.

MATTHEWS: What about her?

LIPTON: With her record-breaking 19 Oscar nominations and three wins,
I`m sure I will sound demented when I say that she is one of the most
underrated actors of our time.

She is so agile, so facile, that she makes the craft of acting look
easy, so easy that some people would swear she`s not even acting. That, of
course, is the perfect definition of acting genius.

Well, here`s a clip from "Kramer vs. Kramer," 1979.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "KRAMER VS. KRAMER")

MERYL STREEP, ACTRESS: I came here to take my son home. And I
realize he already is home. Oh, I love him very much. I`m not going to
take him with me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow.

LIPTON: Wow is right.

MATTHEWS: Is it true that Jean -- Jean Arthur taught her at
Wellesley?

LIPTON: Taught Meryl?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

LIPTON: First of all, Meryl was a product of the Yale Drama School.

MATTHEWS: I thought she went to Wellesley. I thought she taught at
Wellesley.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LIPTON: No, no. No, she may have gone to Wellesley, but she was a
product -- she had her master`s degree from Yale. And she was taught by
Robert Lewis, who came out of the group theater and who was one of my
teachers.

And, interestingly enough...

MATTHEWS: Well, we will check that out. I`m a buff, not a great --
not an expert or genius, like you. But I really do think there`s a Jean
Arthur connection.

(LAUGHTER)

LIPTON: When did I qualify as a genius in this? I`m just a
commutator.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: You`re great.

And thanks so much for coming on, James. I love all those scenes.
And I still want to carry a lot candle in my pocket -- I will light it up
right now -- for Cary Grant, although people say he`s not a great actor. I
must have seen 20 great movies that made me really happy starring Cary
Grant.

LIPTON: Chris, he was a great, great, great movie star. There`s a
slight difference, I think. Just my opinion.

MATTHEWS: OK.

Up next -- thank you so much, James Lipton of the Actors Studio.

(CROSSTALK)

LIPTON: You`re very welcome. And this was a pleasure, always a
pleasure.

MATTHEWS: Thank you.

Up next, 62 percent of Americans right now are for putting boots on
the ground, U.S. boots on the ground, to fight ISIS in Iraqi and Syria. Do
you believe it? And guess what? Iranian boots are already there and
kicking some butt.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: When it comes to Iran and
ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was, of course, Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu this week
in the Congress with a warning for the United States, and yet, the reality
on the ground over there shows Iran is playing a stepped-up role in
fighting ISIS.

As Helene Cooper wrote in "The New York Times" today, President Obama
is becoming increasingly dependent on Iranian fighters as he trying to
contain the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria without
committing American ground troops. American war planners have been closely
monitoring Iran`s parallel war against ISIS through a range of channels,
including conversation on radio frequencies that each side knows the other
is monitoring and the two militaries frequently seek to avoid conflict in
their activities by using Iraqi command centers as an intermediary.

Vali Nasr, a former special adviser to the president, put it bluntly,
"You can`t have your cake and eat it, too. The United States strategy in
Iraq has been successful so far largely because of Iran."

Wow, I`m joined tonight by our roundtable. "The Atlantic`s" Steve
Clemons, "The Huffington Post`s" Ryan Grim, and "The Washington Post`s"
Elahe Izadi.

Thank you all for joining us.

This is a strange situation. We fought World War II with a lot of
help from the Russians. You can say they took the brunt of that fight,
Steve.

STEVE CLEMONS, THE ATLANTIC: Oh, yes.

MATTHEWS: And we wouldn`t have gotten to Hitler. By the time we got
to the beaches of Normandy, there`s no more -- left. That`s a lot better
to fight.

Now, this war, we find ourselves with having defeated the Sunni
government in Baghdad, we have set up a Shia-run government, which is very
friendly to Iran, now we find ourselves fighting on the same side with Iran
against ISIS.

It`s a revolting development, as we used to say in the old days. But
it is the development we live with. Can we beat ISIS without Iran?

CLEMONS: The answer is, one, no. Two, we fought as well alongside
Iran for certain key parts of stabilizing Afghanistan. So, what we did in
2003 with Iran, as forgotten by many people, so we have cooperated with
this country before, they helped produce Karzai and Afghanistan for better
or worse, but we were part of that.

But the third part of this, we`re assuring another civil war inside
Iraq by letting Iran put boots on the ground, because we`re convincing
Sunnis throughout that region, in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, but also in
northern Iraq, that we are giving Iraq to Iran, and that -- they won`t bide
by that.

MATTHEWS: Didn`t they do that in 2002, 2003?

CLEMONS: We`re doing it again. We`re reinforcing that.

MATTHEWS: It seems like we turned over that government to Shia, who
we used to hate during the hostage crisis of `79 and `80, remember?
(INAUDIBLE) hated the Shia, and now we give them the government of Iraq and
now we are surprised they have it.

RYAN GRIM, THE HUFFINGTON POST: The problem here is different things
we`re doing is running at cross-purposes. The fundamental problem is that
Iraq doesn`t even really exist anymore as a state, as we commonly
understand them.

So, to the extent we`re trying to bring together Sunni and Shia, we`re
alienating Iran. But in order to take on ISIS, we`re working with Iran,
and working with Iran alienates the Sunnis. So, there really is no way to
both --

MATTHEWS: Who`s going to get the territory? If ISIS quit tomorrow,
if they just put their hands in the air and walked away, they didn`t exist
anymore, who would own all that land in Iraq?

GRIM: It could be governed by the Sunnis who are there now.

MATTHEWS: The locals?

GRIM: Now, the problem --

MATTHEWS: There`s no government.

(CROSSTALK)

GRIM: The Shia totally dominated that area, and that`s why ISIS was
able to come through there so quickly, because they were furious at the
federal government.

CLEMONS: Sunni tribal leaders would run and own the land up there,
but they want to run Baghdad. They want they feel that they have been
screwed by the Abadi government, just lake they were screwed by the Maliki
government, and they are not -- despite what John Kerry has crafted -- feel
that they have a real stake and real role in that government.

MATTHEWS: OK. American people, I`m looking at all those numbers,
people now support troops. A new Quinnipiac poll this week shows that by
2-1 margin, Americans are now in favorite of sending U.S. ground troops to
fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Elahe?

ELAHE IZADI, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well --

MATTHEWS: It`s unbelievable that the American people are talking
about a big heavy force of Americans going in and fighting a war again,
after we just got out of Iraq.

IZADI: There are a number of polls showing this shift among
Americans, shifting toward supporting ground troops from October to now.

But there`s also a Pew poll last week that showed support was kind of
split. I think the polling is kinds of all over the map a little bit on
this issue, but the point is there is growing support, and it`s coming amid
more and more videos of ISIS atrocities, showing beheadings of Americans
and aid workers. We have all those Egyptian Christians who were
slaughtered on the beach, and I think more and more Americans are becoming
outraged at this. But it`s another question of how strongly they feel
about American involvement in the region.

MATTHEWS: How about the people -- who are we fighting? We go into an
area like we do with Vietcong or we did -- people were wrong -- the British
were wrong about America. They thought they would come in and everybody
would be on their side.

Who`s going to be on our side --

CLEMONS: Well, if we go in, and we go inside, that on a temporary
basis, a lot of the Sunnis may join us if we arm them, if we empower them,
as long as we promise to leave, and as long we --

MATTHEWS: Who did we give the country to when we leave? Who wants to
govern?

CLEMONS: There are no good answers. What happens is the American
public, why wary of getting involved, is nonetheless convinced that ISIS
can come to their street corner, blow you will their mall, kill their
children, their journalists, and they have changed the game. When we were
going to attack Syria on the chemical weapons, the American public was not.
It was Labor Day weekend and nobody wanted to go to war. So, ISIS has
taunted us and invited --

MATTHEWS: I`m with most Americans, I`ve got a visceral, gut attitude
about this. But what happens when we take territory back from them, block
by block, we kill ISIS people. Will those people we liberate, will they be
on our side once they see the Shia brigades come in behind us, the Shia
militia come in behind us? Or they say, wait a minute, how did we get
stuck here and they will be opposition to us again?

IZADI: Well, yes, and that`s a big concern, right? Even in Tikrit
where there`s a being offensive happening, where you have Iranian-backed
Shia militants, who are involved in that effort, comprising a huge -- a
proportion of that effort. There`s concern that that`s going to turn into
a sectarian bloodbath.

CLEMONS: And right now, ISIS recruitment is surging, because of the
Tikrit action. We`re calling the Tikrit action, Martin Dempsey is saying
that it`s good thing that Iran is there and they`re striking. What is
happening is Sunni tribes in the area are joining us en masse with ISIS,
because they see that as their alternative.

MATTHEWS: What I see is Bibi Netanyahu, because he has this
antipathy, justified obviously, with Iran, that`s the war he wants to
fight, the war the American people want to fight is fight ISIS. This is a
cross-purposes situation, and the president has to make a decision.
Apparently, he`s decided to fight ISIS, but not really.

The round table is staying with us.

And up next, the latest on the vicious attack against the U.S.
ambassador in South Korea. North Korea called it a deserved punishment.
We`re going to show you the visuals. It`s really dramatic.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Edward Cardinal Egan, the seventh cardinal of the See of
New York, died today of cardiac arrest. Cardinal Egan was appointed to in
2001 by John Paul II. He retired as archbishop in New York in 2009, but
continued to work with the diocese while serving on a number of offices at
the Vatican. Cardinal Egan was 82 years old.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back with our roundtable, Steve, Ryan and Elahe.

Anyway, the United States ambassador to South Korea was attacked
today, this morning by a man, reportedly angered over joint military
exercises between the U.S. and South Korea. The attack happened at a
breakfast forum not far from the U.S. embassy.

NBC`s Keir Simmons describes the incident. And caution here, there is
some graphic footage coming.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEIR SIMMONS, NBC NEWS (voice-over): Panic, just minutes after
suffering a four-inch slash to his face.

MARK LIPPERT, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SOUTH KOREA: I need an ambulance
past. Get me to the hospital.

SIMMONS: Ambassador Lippert, a second cut to his arm, is bungled into
a car. Moments earlier, the ambassador who served with the Navy SEALs
calmly walks from the room where his alleged assailant was wrestled to the
ground.

Mark Lippert place setting still splattered with blood, a knife
recovered by police.

Later, the ambassador to South Korea was helped from an ambulance,
bandaged and wearing hospital clothes. "I`m OK", he says.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS: Ambassador Lippert received 80 stitches and two and half
hours of surgery. President Obama called him earlier to wish him well.
Lippert, a former Navy officer, he wasn`t a SEAL, previously chief of staff
of the president`s National Security Council.

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke about Lippert today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: I talked to him a little while ago.

REPORTER: How`s he doing?

KERRY: He`s doing as good as he could be expected. And his spirit is
strong. And he intends to soldier on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Ben Rhodes who, of course, is a deputy national
security adviser, also spoke today about his friend and former colleague.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN RHODES, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: This is someone who served his
country in harm`s way. He`s a tough guy. I expect he`ll be back on his
feet and in his job as soon as possible. The tweet he issued today I think
sends that message.

And he has really taken to this job, he and his wife Robyn, have
embraced the Korean people. They`ve gotten among the people. They`re very
prominent there. He speaks Korean.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Eighty stitches and he just stood there and took it, and
said -- he basically kept control of the situation, get me to a hospital, I
need a doctor. Talking about cool, grace under pressure.

CLEMONS: Mark Lippert happened to be a good friend of mine and he`s
cool like that all of the time. I mean, he was chief of staff of the
Pentagon under Chuck Hagel. He keeps his staff in the biggest storms and
he just demonstrated this in 3D form in front of all us.

MATTHEWS: Elahe, is every post now diplomatically a dangerous post?
It seems like it.

IZADI: Well, I will just say that this incident underscores the
dangers that diplomats, even in countries that are considered very safe
face. This diplomat, he is known to take walks around, and just among
people saying hello to ordinary Koreans, on his way. I mean, even someone
like that in a country like South Korea could be attacked that way.

CLEMONS: We think Asia is safe, and the Middle East is dangerous. It
reminded me of Ed Reischauer, many people know that our ambassador to
Japan, he was stabbed in the `60s and it was very unlikely because we
thought that we were completely safe in a place like Japan.

MATTHEWS: He is a great friend of Japan too.

CLEMONS: But the bigger danger here, I think long term, is retreating
behind calls all other the country. You can`t walk around --

MATTHEWS: Tell us about the embassies you visited. They`re all
bunkers and outside of town.

GRIM: Take Beirut for instance, yes, in the suburbs. The staff there
are allowed to leave something like twice a week. And journalists and
other NGO types who live in Beirut, are at the bars and restaurants every
night. If you`re only out twice a week and you`re with armored cars and
you`re with guards, what`s the point of even being there.

MATTHEWS: Even if personnel have to hide, that is just a building.

GRIM: Right, exactly. And so, what`s the point? How are you
deriving local knowledge when you`re going to bars on the embassy and
talking to people from northern Virginia or from suburban Maryland who are
there for a year or two --

MATTHEWS: May make all of the applicants for visas wait outside the
bunker. They have to wait aside in the sun or whatever, you know?

GRIM: Yes, for hours.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, you know the guy, tell us about him.

CLEMONS: Yes, Mark Lippert is a great man. As Ben Rhodes said, he
was on the NSC staff. He moved from there to work for Chuck Hagel in the
Pentagon and just left a short while ago. His dream job was to be the
ambassador of South Korea. He speaks Korean, he`s just outstanding and
serve in a real military and defense expert. That said --

MATTHEWS: You`re an amazing guy, Steve. You know everybody.

I mean, I appreciate this fellow and thank him for his service when
you see him. And a great guy, I love the way he kept calm, Hemingway, you
know? Grace under pressure, he showed it.

Steve Clemons, that`s an easy name, Ryan Grim, and Elahe Izadi, thank
you. That`s an easy name once you grow up and learn it.

I`ll be right back.

CLEMONS: Thank you, Chris.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: That`s HARDBALL for now, and thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

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