The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 09/08/14
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, Pam. And thanks
to you at home for joining us this hour. In 1987, “The New York Times”
magazine did a long profile of a Democratic senator and presidential
hopeful named Gary Hart. Gary Hart as a senator was brilliant. He was
brash, very confident. He had a knack for getting himself right into the
middle of the most important political stories in the country. He was tall
and handsome. And in the 1988 presidential race Gary Hart was going to be
a real contender.
But there were these persistent rumors about his personal life,
specifically about infidelity. “The Miami Herald” had run an investigative
piece linking him to a specific woman in Miami. But Gary Hart denied all
of these rumors, denied stories like that, and when he did that profile
with “The New York Times” magazine in 1987, he told “The New York Times”
that he had nothing to hide. He told them specifically this. Quote.
“Follow me around. I don`t care. I`m serious. If anybody wants to put a
tail on me, go ahead. They`d be very bored.” That`s the pool quote in the
dictionary now, next to the phrase, “tempting fate.” Because sure enough,
people took him up on the offer and this is the picture that derailed Gary
Hart`s 1988 presidential hopes. The picture was published by one of that
shiny skinny little newsprint magazines that you can get at the supermarket
checkout line right next to the Sudoku and the horoscope books. The
picture was published by “The National Enquirer.” We don`t think of the
tabloids as contributing all that much on the journalistic side of things
in our country, but don`t tell that to Gary Hart. Don`t tell that to John
Edwards, either. It was “The National Enquirer” as well that also broke
the John Edwards`s story in 2007.
In the abstractive, nobody would have believed it, right? But it was “The
National Enquirer” that did the actual investigative work to track down the
fact that former vice-presidential nominee, former Democratic Senator John
Edwards had not only had an extramarital affair, but he had despite his
denials, fathered a child, secretly in that relationship, and basically was
maintaining a whole second secret family. Had he been elected vice
president, which is not a stretch, I guess the plan was to stash the secret
family somewhere in Washington? So he could have access both to his
official public family and the other secret family? He didn`t think
anybody would ever know about? Maybe? What could possibly go wrong?
I mean tabloid journalism is tabloid journalism. But sometimes, tabloid
journalistic outlets breaks real journalistic stories. They break stories
that are way more important than their usual, you know, celebrity feuds and
Justin Bieber`s latest coke rash. “The National Enquirer” is still around.
It`s still very next to the Sudoku books, but the tabloid outlet that has
largely, I think, taken its place in the Internet era, taking “The
Enquirer`s” place at the top of the trashing news zip. It`s the outfit
When the owner of the L.A. Clippers was forced out of the NBA and made to
sell his team, even though he didn`t want to, that was because TMZ sports
published audiotapes that appeared to show that NBA owner using racial
slurs and talking disparagingly about black people. That was TMZ. You
know, in 2009, in the middle of the financial crisis and the emergency
bailouts to the financial sector by the government, it was TMZ of all
places that broke the story about Northern Trust Bank. Remember this
story? Northern Trust Bank took $1.6 billion in a taxpayer-funded bailout,
1.6 billion with a “b” and then just weeks later, that same bank spent
millions of dollars to sponsor a lavish, professional golf event. They
flew hundreds of their own employees and their clients across the country
for a celebratory dinner party at a Ritz-Carlton. That included a private
performance by the band in Chicago, the following day, the bank rented a
private hangar at the Santa Monica Airport to host another celebratory
dinner after which “Earth, Wind and Fire” played. And not like an “Earth,
Wind and Fire” cover band, but actually “Earth, Wind and Fire.” Then the
culminating event was renting the entire House of Blues night club in West
Hollywood for a blowout dinner and a Sheryl Crow concert. Enjoy the bail
out! Taxpayers are happy to help.
That story including the great details like everybody at the Chicago
concert getting a gift bag from Tiffany`s, that story was broken by TMZ.
And so, yes, in “The National Enquirer” and the places like TMZ, mostly, it
is about like celebrity feuds, right, and plastic surgery and wearing
controversial swimsuits and stuff. But, sometimes, tabloid outlets like
this, “The National Enquirer” before, TMZ today, sometimes they break the
biggest story in the country. And that happened today.
In February this year, February 15th, there was an altercation at an
Atlantic City New Jersey hotel involving a football player named Ray Rice
and his fianc‚e. It was a violent altercation of some kind. Neither of
them was taken to the hospital, but both of them were initially charged
with simple assault by the Atlantic City police, which responded to the
incident. Four days after the incident, TMZ sports published this
disturbing video, surveillance video, apparently taken from the lobby of
the hotel. The woman on the ground being roughly drug out of the elevator.
It`s apparently Ray Rice`s fianc‚e. Ray Rice is the figure in the baseball
cap, pulls her out of the elevator before you then see somebody else appear
in the frame. Although Atlantic City police as I said had initially
charged both Mr. Rice and his fianc‚e in that incident, prosecutors ended
up dropping all charges against her. In the following month, the incident
happened in February, in March, a grand jury in Atlantic City decided to
indict Ray Rice on a very serious charge. They indicted him on third
degree aggravated assault. That`s a felony. It could be up to five years
in prison. Now, as far as we know, Ray Rice has no previous criminal
record. He is not known to have any previous disciplinary problems in the
National Football League, his employer. He pled not guilty to the
aggravated assault charge, he was eligible to enter a diversionary program
for first time offenders. In that program, he would have that
participating counseling and basically stayed out of trouble for a year,
but if he met those conditions and stuck with that program for the year,
ultimately, the charge would be wiped off his record. That`s how
diversionary programs work.
At that time, the NFL in May, when he pled, the NFL and this is the Rice
football team, the Ravens, they had him to a press conference, on which he
apologized for his behavior, his behavior, again, had resulted in a felony
assault charge and him knocking his girlfriend unconscious, right? She was
knocked out, cold, by his hands. But at the end, this press conference in
May was sort of - it was obviously very serious circumstances, but it was
sort of bizarre and emotional press conference. In part, because the woman
who had been his fianc‚e when he knocked her out, was, by then, his wife,
they went through with getting married after the incident and before this
press conference. She said next to him through that press conference in
May. He basically described them as having some sort of mutual challenge
as a couple, having been through some sort of mutual trouble. And then, at
the end of the press conference, after he had been speaking for all this
time, then at the end of the press conference, she apologized?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAY RICE: I just want to first off apologize to, you know, Steve
Bisciotti, Ozzie Newsome, and Coach Harbaugh, yeah, and I also want to
apologize to my fans, my - to the kids, to everyone who was affected, you
know, by this situation that me and my wife were in. I want you to know
that, you know, I`m still the Ray Rice that you know or used to know or
grown to love. I`m still the same guy. You know, and as me and Janay wish
we could take back 30 seconds of our life, I think my wife has something to
say. I don`t want to be the only one who - you know, we`re in this
together. So, Janay, you got something.
JANAY PALMER: Yes, first I want to say, thank you for all of those who
have supported us throughout the situation. I do deeply regret the role
that I have played in the incident that night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was in May. It was July before the NFL announced what action
it would be taking against its employee in this case. They announced that
Mr. Rice would be suspended for two games, for context here, Ray Rice`s
team, the Ravens, they played their first game of the season yesterday.
They played their second game of the season on Thursday of this week. So,
had that been the end of it, Ray Rice would be back on the team less than
two weeks into the season and playing ball again professionally.
But that, of course, is not the end of it, because today TMZ somehow
obtained and then published a second tape of this beating at that Atlantic
City hotel. That previous tape that they had released back in February,
just a few days after the incident that had shown the aftermath of the
incident. But the tape that they released today was apparently shot by the
surveillance camera that was inside the elevator. And it shows Ray Rice
and his fianc‚e clearly involved in some sort of mutual confrontation.
They`re clearly upset with each other. But then, unmistakably, he hits her
in the face really hard with his left hand. He punches her in the face so
hard, it knocks her out immediately. And it is a terrible thing to see.
But this has become the highest profile story about domestic violence and
violence against women in years in our country. And the reason it has
become such a high profile story, frankly, is the tape. And if you do not
want to watch the tape, there`s no shame in that and you`ll want to just
turn away for a moment. Because we are now going to show it, and I feel
like after a lot of consideration, I feel like we have to, because it is
impossible to tell this story without showing it.
The tape shows Mr. Rice and his fianc‚e entering the elevator walking into
the elevator from out in the hallway. And then shows Mr. Rice very quickly
striking his fianc‚e, it shows her sort of lounging at him or coming at him
and then it shows him hitting her with the punch from his left hand and
knocking her out instantly. Then it shows him dragging her seemingly
unconscious body out of the elevator. He ends up - see, the elevator
stopped, and for then he ends up dragging her out, rearranging her limbs,
basically. Eventually, another person approaches the scene at the very end
of the video. See, sort of roughly moving her body around. It eventually
shows her seeming to regain consciousness towards the end of this video.
So, this is the tape that TMZ published today. Since it was posted this
morning, the football team that Ray Rice was employed by the Baltimore
Ravens, they`ve announced that they`ve terminated his contract. The NFL
who previously only planned to suspend him for two games, for less than two
weeks, then standing light of this video evidence, they would suspend his -
they would extend his suspension to be an indefinite one. The NFL and the
Ravens are both insisting publicly that they`ve never seen this second
video before today. The Ravens` coach repeated in a press conference
tonight that the team was not aware of the video before today and asked for
the league he said he could not say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Coach, how come your team wasn`t able to see the
video until today?
JOHN HARBAUGH: I have no answer for that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coach, do you believe that the NFL has seen that video
HARBAUGH: I don`t have any understanding or knowledge of any of that, I
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you satisfied with the level of diligence that the
organization took to see what occurred on the night of the video?
HARBAUGH: Absolutely. Absolutely. Sure. I`m not following where you are
going with that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m just curious why the team wasn`t able to see the
HARBAUGH: I don`t know why that would be hard thing to understand. It
wasn`t made available. It wasn`t there for us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the legal standpoint.
HARBAUGH: As far as I know, yeah. I mean it wasn`t something we ever saw
or we ever had access to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s the Baltimore Ravens coach Johan Harbaugh tonight. He`s
apparently the person who the NFL thought would be the best spokesperson on
this issue for the nation. I should mention that the coach in the same
press conference talked about how excited he was about the number of yards
his team was able to gain in yesterday`s game and how very things is
offences right now, and how much he is looking forward to playing in
Pittsburgh on Thursday.
There`s a real question as to whether or not it is true that the NFL had
not seen this video today before it was posted on TMZ. It had been
reported in July at “Sports Illustrated`s” website. And also on ESPN that
there was a second video. There was a surveillance camera video shot from
inside the elevator. On ESPN radio, back in July, it was what was on the
video was described in detail. ESPN radio, in July, describing the
existence of a second tape saying it showed Mr. Rice hitting the woman hard
and then the woman hitting her head on the handrail inside the elevator
after she was punched and then she clearly became unconscious on the floor.
The detailed description that aired on ESPN in July is absolutely in detail
what the video did show inside that elevator.
So at least somebody in the sports world seems to have seen that video as
of July. Seems to have seen it well enough to describe exactly what that
If so, if people inside professional football knew about this video before
today, knew about the contents of this video before today, then the big
press conference, right, the firing today, the indefinite suspension today.
Not that it was because the NFL learns today that this is what transpired
in that elevator. It`s all actually just because all the rest of us
learned today that that`s what transpired inside that elevator.
Remember, all along, since the incident happened, since TMZ published the
first video in this incident, there has never been any ambiguity as to what
happened here. We have known all along that Ray Rice knocked her
unconscious in that elevator.
The NFL only moved to fire him today once we all saw him do it. And this
went from being a tragedy to being a tragedy with apparently really bad
P.R. consequences for a very, very expensive football league.
At the - after the initial uproar about the league giving Mr. Rice only a
two games suspension back in July, the commissioner of the NFL did admit
that perhaps the suspension had been too light. Perhaps his action just
given him two game that - given the impression that the NFL didn`t care
about domestic violence as an issue. The commissioner, last month,
announced new guidelines for stricter punishment in domestic violence cases
among NFL players. Since those new penalties were announced last month,
two more NFL players have been arrested in domestic violence cases. A wide
receiver who plays in the practice squad with the Jets, he was arrested in
Florham Park, New Jersey on August 31, the same day a defensive tackle from
the San Francisco 49ers was arrested as well on another domestic violence
And the eventual punishment for those players is yet to be determined.
It`s hard not to wonder, though, whether the punishment will depend on TMZ
or “The National Enquirer” or somebody else publishing some cell phone
video of what happened.
This week marks the 20 year anniversary of the passage of the Violence
against Women Act, which beefed up investigation and prosecution of violent
crimes against women including domestic violence. This month marks the
arrival of the one really big, thick monthly edition of the fashion
magazine, “Vogue.” Apparently, I`m advised, September is when fall
fashions come out and so September is always a really big, thick magazine.
The advertising is presumably therefore very expensive in the September
Because they can sell so much of it. In this month`s “Vogue” magazine, the
NFL has bought a four-page spread of full color fashion magazine ads in the
September “Vogue” trying to make the NFL appear - appeal more to women. I
think we`ve got close ups of the ads there. Oh, yeah. “Together, we make
football fierce. Together, we make football stunning. Together, we make
football fashionable. Together, we make football captivating.” See that
one on the right there? He`s captivating her
Today, as the story breaks, in the opening week of the NFL, the richest and
most monopolistically dominant cultural institution that we have in our
country, today as the story becomes the most talked about story in the
country, frankly, a good part of the country is hiding behind its hands
unable or unwilling to watch a video of this horrible and this raw and this
really shocking and upsetting. Another part of the country, another part
of the media, at least, apparently sees this as just one tabloid story
among many. Look where it broke, it broke on TMZ. Maybe there`s even a
kind of a funny side to this thing.
Here`s how they covered the story on a show called “Fox & Friends” this
morning on the Fox News Channel. The host of the program showed the video,
the same video that we just showed you, they watched the video in the
studio and then here`s how they wrapped up their discussion and moved on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the message is take the stairs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The message is when you`re in an elevator, there`s a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: There`s a camera. Yeah. Don`t be an idiot. Cover up the camera
The NFL was ready to have Ray Rice still in its employee - back on the
field next week before this tape was published by TMZ today.
Do we get better as a country or worse as a country at confronting domestic
violence? Violence by men against women. Could we get better or worse at
handling that problem as a nation when that violence happens under the
clieglights of the most potent cultural institution that we have as a
country. What happens next here? Joining us now is Julia Macur. She`s
sports reporter for “The New York Times.” Thanks very much for being with
us. I really appreciate your time tonight.
JULIA MACUR, “NEW YORK TIMES”: You are welcome.
MADDOW: So, when John Harbaugh held this press conference about an hour
ago, he said about the new video, it`s something we saw for the first time
today. It changed things, of course. It made things a little different.
Why did seeing the video change the course of the story so dramatically
when we knew the outcome of the assault even before seeing the video?
MACUR: It changed the course of the Baltimore Ravens and NFL for sure,
because they finally had to do something about it. They were pressured
into doing something about it, because the whole world saw exactly what
happened in that elevator. Even though they had already, if they looked
into it at all, everyone would have known exactly what happened in that
elevator based on the facts that the police have brought forward and the
short video that TMZ had published early on, showing Ray Rice drag his
fianc‚e out. And we all knew that he had punched his fianc‚e and that she
was unconscious, but having it on video really hit at home, so to speak, to
so many people. And the NFL was pressured into doing something about it,
which is really sad for the NFL. And it should be embarrassing for the NFL
that they needed a video and people tweeting to them and making comments on
our website, we have 1200 comments on the news story they were on today.
Saying how ridiculous it was that they gave Ray Rice two months - I mean,
sorry, two game suspension early on, that they should have done more much
MADDOW: Well, in - I mean it`s hard to talk about the NFL without
understanding sort of what a juggernaut they are, both culturally and
economically. There`s really nothing else in American, you know, it sort
of arts, sports and letters that competes with the NFL in terms of its
dominance and its own field, in terms of how economically huge it is as an
engine in the sports and entertainment world. I mean what does make them
move? Obviously, the problem of domestic violence - among players and the
problem of, in fact, some other criminal involvement by players is never
enough to move them dramatically in the past. Is it the fear of lost
revenue? Is it upset? Is it just PR more broadly? Do you have a sense of
what makes them move?
MACUR: It`s PR more broadly. But, of course, it`s the fear of lost
revenue. I mean they know that women are powerful when it comes to who
buys the tickets, season tickets. You know, who lets their husband go to
the games on Sundays. And they are right now, they are very sensitive
about how - how the NFL is seen when it`s treating women. Which is
seemingly kind of ridiculous after the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell gave
Ray Rice such a pitiful two games suspension that day. You would even
think that they would care about what women think of them. But obviously,
now that they are taking out ads and women`s magazines saying, oh, look at
the NFL, it`s - if that cares about women so much, and together, we`re
making a great form of entertainment for the world. It`s kind of a joke,
when you think about it. I mean like I said, this is an embarrassing
moment for the NFL, perhaps the most embarrassing moment in the history of
the league. And we don`t know if the NFL commissioner had seen the video
tape or if the Ravens had seen the videotape, but from my perspective, I
don`t think it matters. The facts are out there that Ray Rice had punched
his fianc‚e unconscious. He was charged with the crime. And nobody did
anything about it that really meant anything. And the NFL has a huge
effect on people in this country, whether it`s children, other players,
guys and women that watch the games on Sunday. If they came out and fired
- if the Ravens fired Ray Rice immediately or if the NFL had a strict -
stricter NFL domestic violence policy back then, it would have made a huge
impact just around the world, really.
MADDOW: Do you think it`s possible that Roger Goodell will be basically in
trouble because of this? That the owners may decide or that the NFL may
decide more broadly that his initial decision for that very light two game
suspension was sort of the original sin here? After Mr. Rice`s behavior
itself that maybe Mr. Goodell is going to be in need of a new job?
MACUR: I think a lot of people are calling him - calling for him to step
down right now because of the just the humongous gaffe that he has already
done. But I think we`ll have to watch what happens over the next days and
months about the other players, how he treats the other players who have
already been charged with domestic violence. Like you said earlier,
they`ve already been two of them that have been charged. How he treats
those players, how he moves forward and gets himself out of this really
massive haul that is really unprecedented.
MADDOW: Julia Macur, sports reporter for “The New York Times.” Thank you
very much for being with us to help us understand this tonight. I
appreciate your time.
MACUR: You are welcome.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. Lots more ahead tonight. We`re going to be joined by Jose
Diaz-Balart in just a couple of minutes to talk about President Obama`s
decision to delay immigration reform. Later, we`ve got some important
Scott Brown news that I`m going to very much enjoy delivering to you.
There`s lots ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, hey, Congress is back. Did you miss them while they were
away? You know, I think it`s fair to say they know they were not missed.
Members of Congress were on a five weeks plus vacation. That included the
entire month of August and then some. But they have now had to come back
to D.C. to work for a few days. Boring. That said, there is a lot to do.
And, right away, on the new “Meet the Press” yesterday, the debut of Chuck
Todd as the moderator of “Meet the Press” President Obama made news when he
announced that he`d be doing a major address to the nation this week about
ISIS and about what he wants to do to fight that militant group in Iraq and
Syria. The speech is going to be on Wednesday, the day after tomorrow. We
don`t yet know if it`s going to be a speech during the day or whether it`s
going to be a prime time, nighttime address. Around that effort to make
the case to the country for fighting ISIS, the White House says it also
intends to hold intensive briefings this week for every single person
serving in Congress. Tomorrow, the president himself is due to meet
directly with the leadership from both houses of Congress to talk with them
about ISIS. And then on Wednesday, the White House is going to hold a
classified briefing for all 100 members of the United States Senate. Then
the following day on Thursday, they are going to do a classified briefing
on ISIS for all 435 members of the House.
Now, it`s always fun on those days to see which members of Congress leave
in the middle of the classified briefing to go do TV interviews, instead,
in which they claim that they`re just not getting briefed enough. That
will be fun to watch. I`m looking at you, John McCain.
But those meetings directly between the Congressional leadership and the
president, those classified briefings of the entire Congress, those are the
signals of a major political effort in Washington to basically try to get
the whole of the U.S. government, if not on board, then at least on the
same page when it comes to the president`s proposals right now for how to
The plans for presidential address to the nation the day after tomorrow,
that`s an effort to get not just the government, but the whole country on
the same page about strategy against ISIS as well. And all of this
political and sort of diplomatic work here at home, it all happens in the
midst of an intense international effort by the administration to try to
get the rest of the world on the same page. Not just about the necessity
to combat this group, ISIS, but to try to do so in a coordinated,
international way so different countries aren`t working at crossed purposes
when it comes to trying to stop this group.
And particularly, the administration wants high profile involvement from
countries that have big, Sunni Muslim populations. Since ISIS is a Sunni
Muslim group. They also, particularly, want and need participation from
countries that are in the immediate neighborhood of the threat posed by
ISIS, countries including not just Iraq and Syria, where the group is
based, but also countries like Turkey and Jordan and Saudi Arabia and
Qatar, they want those countries to be seen as helping lead the
international response. So it`s not just the West against the Muslims.
It`s the world against ISIS. And nowhere nearby to offer them any safe
haven or support.
And so, the diplomatic effort around this is intense, right? This is a
very big diplomatic aim, this is a big ask of countries that do not like
having big things asked of them publicly, particularly when it`s the U.S.
doing the asking. But there was a big development on that front today.
Members of the Arab League, which is a group of 22 countries of the Arab
League signed onto a resolution in support of immediate measures to combat
ISIS. That`s a big deal, because they are the Arab League.
Even with that advance, though, that still does leave the tough work of
negotiating individual commitments from all the individual countries that
really could play a key role against ISIS. Particularly the nation of
Turkey. Turkey has turned out to be a real key player here for the Obama
administration. A senior U.S. defense official tells reporters today
“Turkey by the fact of its geography is inevitably a partner. It`s got to
be a partner. It won`t work without Turkey.” It won`t work without
Turkey. And when you look at a map, you can see why that geographic
inevitability is so. I mean Turkey with its close proximity to both Syria
and Iraq, Turkey has served as a point of transit for fighters trying to
join up with ISIS in both Syria and Iraq. They crossed over from Turkey.
And the U.S. wants Turkey to stop that. Basically to crack down on
militants crossing their border.
If Turkey was on board with the broader strategy, they would also
conceivably provide a key launching point for some broader military action,
particularly if there was going to be an advantial (ph) campaign of U.S.
airstrikes in Syria. So, so Turkey, geographically and diplomatically is
just critically important here. Turkey for its part, has been a little bit
hesitant to take a stand for or against ISIS, especially since ISIS
militants are currently holding 49 Turkish citizens hostage after a raid on
a Turkish consulate in Iraq in June. Turkey has tried very hard to avoid
becoming the next target of ISIS. But the U.S. is basically putting full
court press on them right now, to try to get them on board.
Today, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel landed in Turkey`s capital to meet
with the Turkish president and other top officials there. This is the
first time that a U.S. defense secretary has visited Turkey in almost three
years. A U.S defense official telling reporters that the purpose of the
trip was, quote, really to see how far they are willing to go to assist in
a U.S.-led coalition.
One of the reasons that`s been kind of hard to figure out so far is because
we, as a country, don`t have an ambassador to Turkey. Really? With all of
this going on in the world? Nope? We don`t have an ambassador to Turkey.
Thank you, Congress. President Obama nominated a long time career diplomat
named John Bass, nominated him for the - way back in June, a very non-
controversial appointment. But since then, Mr. Bass`s nomination has just
suck in the Senate along with dozens of other ambassador nominations.
Living all of these hot spots around the world without an ambassador. For
no reason, other than the fact that this Congress cannot get it together.
The Obama administration realizing how important it is to get a fix for the
American government on the ground there, especially right now, the Obama
administration has taken a sort of remarkable step to send a temporary
ambassador to Turkey while it tries to get a full time one. They`ve sent
Ross Wilson who held the same position during the George W. Bush
administration. But again, he`s just a placeholder. His appointment is
only temporary, and he only just got back to the region this past Saturday.
So the president is going to roll out his strategy to try to defeat ISIS
this week. Turkey is assuredly going to be key to that strategy. We have
a huge ask that we need to make of that country. And we have nobody to
ask. We have no permanent ambassador there. It`s one thing to talk about
the world being a mess. It`s another thing to realize that Congress being
a mess makes the world being a mess, an impenetrable thing. This Congress
has been a failed Congress on so many different levels, but they have set a
new bar in this particular area. You may remember right before the Senate
began its summer break in July. The Senate was essentially shamed into
finally confirming an ambassador to Russia after months of not having one
and this having this huge standoff with Russia. We, at the time, really
desperately needed an ambassador to Russia. They were finally at the last
second before vacation shamed into signing one up.
Now that the Senate is back from vacation and not for very long, maybe we
can finally get an ambassador to Turkey now, too? Maybe? No rush.
MADDOW: A year ago this week, commuters and the ambulance drivers and
little kids on the bus on their first day of school, got themselves stuck
in epic traffic because lanes were closed down on the world`s busiest
bridge on what appears to have been the orders of a top official in the
administration of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. National Democrats
marked the one-year anniversary of the bridge shutdown today with a press
conference at the bridge. Also, a new ad campaign about the scandal and
its implications for Chris Christie. The closing down of those lanes on
that bridge is still under investigation by federal prosecutors. One year
later, we do not know much about that very opaque investigation, except
that it does extend to Governor Christie himself and that it is something
that is not over. Again, that`s a very opaque process, federal
What we can see in New Jersey, though, in the meantime is this. On Friday,
New Jersey got its credit rating downgraded again. Again, specifically
over Governor Christie`s handling of New Jersey state finances. Governor
Christie, would be Republican standard barrel for the nation, has now
provided over seven credit downgrades since he has been governor. And yes,
that is a new record for the Garden State. So, tomorrow will mark one year
since the Christie administration shut down the George Washington Bridge
for whatever political vendetta we still do not understand.
But the shutdown of the state`s credit worthiness, that is story that
apparently never stops under Chris Christie in New Jersey. Seven
downgrades. Happy anniversary.
MADDOW: In June, President Obama said that if Congress will not act on
immigration reform, he would. And he would do it by the end of the summer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I take executive
action only when we have a serious problem, a serious issue. And Congress
chooses to do nothing. And in this situation, the failure of House
Republicans to pass a darn bill is bad for our security. It`s bad for our
economy. And it`s bad for our future. I`ve also directed Secretary
Johnson and Attorney General Holder to identify additional actions my
administration can take on our own. Within my existing legal authorities
to do what Congress refuses to do and fix as much of our immigration system
as we can. If Congress will not do their job, at least we can do ours. I
expect the recommendations before the end of the summer, and I attend to
adopt those recommendations without further delay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was President Obama speaking in June since the president set
that end-of-the-summer deadline for himself. [no audio] immigration reform
lobbying the president to go big on immigration reform. If he`s going to
act on his own, he should act on his own in a very significant way.
Republicans on the other hand, have campaigned against the president`s
promise casting his end of the summer deadline as proof that this is a
president who governs by Fiat. And whose - beyond this executive
authority. As recently as Friday, the president said, essentially, that
him doing as much as he could on immigration would be the right thing to do
for the country. He reiterated that point on Friday. But then on Saturday
morning, the White House announced that President Obama had decided to put
off his end of the summer pledge. They now say he will not act until after
the elections in November.
With control of the U.S. Senate in the balance, Democrats say they`re
worried that action by President Obama now would cost them key Senate races
in red states like Arkansas and North Carolina and Louisiana and Alaska.
White House officials are arguing that if the Democrats lose the Senate
over immigration, they`ll not be able to get votes for immigration reform
basically ever. They say, yes, this is a political calculation, but they
say this is practical politics. They`re trying to preserve the chance for
reform by Congress at some later date. They think they would destroy that
chance if the president acted now before the election. Are they right in
that calculation? And regardless of whether or not they`re right, how are
they going to deal with how mad they have made everyone who favors
immigration reform by reneging on this very clear promise made not that
Joining us now is Telemundo anchor and MSNBC host Jose Diaz-Balart. Jose,
thanks for being here. It`s nice to see you.
JOSE DIAZ-BALART, TELEMUNDO ANCHOR: Good evening, Rachel, what a pleasure.
MADDOW: What do you think of the calculation as it is being explained by
the White House? It`s not just that they just want to hold onto those
Senate seats and they think the president`s actions would be unpopular in
those states and hurt those Senate chances. It`s that they think that the
president acted, it would essentially foreclose the possibility of reform
through Congress any time in the near future. Do you buy that?
DIAZ-BALART: Rachel, let me tell you, I go back to my reading of medieval
theology in the 14 century, a British mystic who wrote “The Cloud of
Unknowing.” There seems to be a cloud of unknowing for me, at least, on
what the logic is. Between the president being so forceful in June
announcing that he will take unilateral action to deal with a system that
everybody agrees is broken. The left and the right both say immigration is
broken. The House had the opportunity this year to deal with it. There
were people on both sides of the aisle that were willing to handle this
very difficult situation and they punted. And they punted for strictly
political expediency. Then, the president says, well, if you people aren`t
going to do the job you`re paid to do, I`m going to have to step up for the
nation`s betterment and deal with it. And I`m going to do it before the
end of the summer. And that`s what really to me, is something I can`t
understand why he would say that if he wasn`t already willing to do just
that. Because the crisis on the border that started last October was
already going on. The elections in November were already coming. And, so,
what is it that one can gain by doing this after being so forceful on the
announcement? The only thing I can think of, Rachel, is that the Democrats
in the Senate and in the House behind closed doors were very forceful to
the president not to act. There were only a handful of them, as you know,
the Senator from Minnesota, the senator from Florida who publicly said it
would be a good thing if the president kept his powder dry until after the
elections. But I`m pretty sure a lot of other people weren`t willing to
give their face and take the heat by asking the president to do something
that I am certain he is ready to do and he wants to do.
MADDOW: Are the Democrats not giving enough consideration to not just the
potential negative effect of doing this politically, but the potential
positive effect had the president done something. I mean you look, they
keep citing the example of the assault weapons ban, back in 1994.
DIAZ-BALART: Right. `94.
MADDOW: That really motivated right wing voters who might not have
otherwise turn out to come out vote against Democrats. And you could say,
maybe there`s a similar dynamic at work on immigration, maybe in some
states. But what`s different about this than in gun control issues is that
this potentially has a chance to galvanize Democratic base voters to boost
particularly Latino turn out at a time when Democrats are trying to come up
with anything they can to boost turnout in a midterm election.
MADDOW: Now, are they underplaying the possibility of that?
DIAZ-BALART: I don`t` know. But I think that in 2014, the gamble is that
the - Latino electorate will not be big enough in the key areas and the key
races right now where this issue could make a difference. So, taking
Colorado out of the equation, there are probably very few states in 2014
that will be affected by lower-than-normal Latino participation. And I do
think that if you are looking at the strictly politically, not putting in
to the mix that there are more than 1,000 deportations in the country every
single day. Deportations like a young man named Luis who, on the morning
show at 10:00, 7:00 a.m. Pacific time, it`s a cheap plug for my show, but I
really do think that we want to talk about Luis who is a Guatemala man who
was currently in a church in Arizona where he has sought refuge. He has
been here six and seven years and has family in this country and he is
facing deportation. So if we remove that aspect, the humanitarian aspect
of a thousand people being deported every single day, a thousand people
being deported tomorrow, maybe 60 or 70,000 people deported by the time the
president decides to act on this issue. If you remove that, then maybe,
maybe by the time you get to 2016, and there will be another candidate that
won`t be Barack Obama running for president, then maybe what happened today
is not going to be as well-remembered by some.
MADDOW: Jose Diaz-Balart, Telemundo anchor and the host of “Jose Diaz-
Balart Mornings” at 10 here on MSNBC. As he says, 10 on the East Coast,
seven on the West Coast. Jose, thanks for staying up late with us tonight.
I really appreciate it.
DIAZ-BALART: Thank you so much.
MADDOW: Thanks. Good to see you.
All right. Still ahead, some Scott Brown news and a very exciting
programming note about something coming up on this show, stay with us.
MADDOW: As far as we can tell, nobody has ever mounted a serious major
party campaign for president while also being under criminal indictment,
but Texas Governor Rick Perry appears to be giving it a go. “The Dallas
Morning News” reporting today that despite facing felony abuse of power
charges in Texas, Rick Perry`s basically going to running for president
school now. So he can do a better job this time than he did last time.
Rick Perry has been governor in Texas for 14 years. But he`s not running
again. In November, the two candidates will be facing off to try to
replace him in Texas, the state`s Attorney General Greg Abbott on the right
side of your screen, and national Democratic Phenom State Senator Wendy
Davis. Wendy Davis has a new book that`s out tomorrow, and we here on the
show have an exclusive interview with her about it. We`re going to be the
first cable news interview that Wendy Davis is doing. That`s tomorrow
night on this show, set your DVR, we`ll be right back.
MADDOW: There is a state in the country that has two women U.S. senators,
a state that also has two members of the House, and they also are both
women. And that same state also has a governor who is a woman. The entire
Congressional delegation and the governorship are all held by women in the
great state of New Hampshire, but one former fashion model is trying to
change that. The polls say Scott Brown is on track tomorrow to win the
Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire. And then the polls
say that will put him on track to lose that race for Senate in the general
election to the incumbent Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen. If the polls
are right, and it goes that way in a primary and the general, that will
mean that Scott Brown will make history. He will be - If it goes the way
the polling say it`s going to go, Scott Brown will be the first person of
the male persuasion to have lost two U.S. Senate races, both to women.
Good luck, sir.
“Time” magazine`s Jane Newton-Small points out that potential historic
achievement this week in a reported piece for “Time,” which also reports
out a strange strategy that Scott Brown is now trying in New Hampshire, in
an effort to reduce the 14 point margin, by which he`s losing female voters
to Jeanne Shaheen, 14 points. To help make up that deficit, apparently,
Scott Brown`s idea is to give out trophies to women, little plaques with
engraving on them, all in cursive. Because women love cursive. This woman
really only wanted to meet with Scott Brown to talk about health care costs
at her business, but Scott Brown inexplicably showed up with a plaque tor
her, naming her a women for Scott Brown hero. He took a picture with her
and the plaque, then he sent out a press release about this award he was
bestowing on this woman. She appears to have been mystified by the whole
thing. That is the latest from planet Scott Brown or the candidate is
apparently winning over the lady voters of New Hampshire one trophy at a
time. How long can it take? Primary New Hampshire`s 105 being held
tomorrow. Tomorrow is the last primary day before the November election.
Tomorrow`s the last primary, it`s New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island,
Delaware, and New Hampshire all voting tomorrow. That means by this time,
tomorrow night we should basically know everywhere in the country, who`s
going to be running in the general election on election night in November.
So we have all the results for you in tomorrow`s primaries, right here,
same bed time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great show. We are proud of you.
That is the rest of the night. We`ll see you again tomorrow, and now it`s
time for the last word
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