Monday night, Keith Olbermann was Keith Olbermann exactly when we needed him to be, taking to task every person that was involved in the Ray Rice domestic abuse scandal, which was reignited after even more damning video emerged showing Ray Rice actually knocking his girlfriend out:
“Each, through deception or incompetence, misled the public, damaged the efforts of every man and every woman in this country seeking to merely slow down the murderous epidemic of domestic violence, and made a mockery of the process by which those who batter those they claim to love are to be brought to justice…No matter what actions were taken today against Rice or might be taken in the future, none of them have any remaining credibility and each must leave or be expelled from their current positions.”
And while he name-checks everyone from the Atlantic City Assistant Prosecutor to the NFL’s Senior Vice President in his monologue, it’s not even an all-encompassing list.
In fact, even though we got a “happy ending” in that Rice is essentially out of the NFL forever, he’s also not in jail where he most likely belongs, and we only got to this “happy ending” in the most convoluted, fucked up way possible, which involved a lot of people making some pretty big mistakes.
To chronologically recap some of the biggest:
Situation: Ray Rice punches his fiancee Janay Palmer in the face during an altercation in an elevator while at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City
Mistake: Ray Rice punches his girlfriend in the face
Mistake Maker(s): Ray Rice
February 15th (a short while later)
Situation: Ray Rice and Janay Palmer are arrested after casino security calls officers because of a domestic dispute.
Mistake: Ray Rice and Janay Palmer are both charged with the same crime, “simple assault-domestic violence,” for what Rice’s attorney Andrew Alperstein called “a very minor physical altercation,” even though casino security called officers because of a domestic dispute “recoded by video surveillance,” meaning they should have been looking at this footage when deciding to charge both parties with a crime:
Because as both Oceans 11 and Grantland’s Bill Simmons like to remind us, in a casino, there are cameras everywhere. If the police, for some reason or another, didn’t see that footage, then we can add the Revel Casino to the list of mistake-makers.
Mistake Maker(s): The Atlantic County Police Department and/or Revel Casino
Situation: TMZobtains the footage above of the incident and publishes it on their website, forcing this issue into the national spotlight.
Mistake: The journalistic stalwarts of TMZ shouldn't have had to publish the video for us to care about this issue (though the other 83 incidents of NFL players being arrested for domestic abuse since 2000 might argue otherwise).
Mistake Maker(s): All the people before this who should have gotten that footage and utilized it accordingly and/or anyone who isn't able to conjure a basic mental image when they hear that Ray Rice struck his fiancee with his hand and rendered her unconscious.
February 19th - May 20th
Situation: The investigation is taken on by Atlantic County Prosecutor’s office.
Mistake: The investigation is taken on by Atlantic County Prosecutor’s office, leading to this series of events:
- Prosecutors offering Rice a plea deal that would have placed him on probation for one year and required him to attend anger management counseling.
- Rice rejecting that offer, with his attorney indicating he would fight the charges if he is not accepted into a pre-trial diversionary program for first-time offenders that would allow him to avoid a trial and could allow him to clear his record of charges completely.
- Prosecutors agreeing to include Rice in the program, with Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain claiming, “After considering all relevant information in light of applicable law it was determined this was the appropriate disposition.”
Mistake Maker(s): Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain, Assistant Prosecutor Diane Rupert, Judge Michael Donio
Situation: Rice and Palmer address the media from the Ravens practice facility.
Mistake: The Ravens Twitter account, which is live-tweeting the event, tweets: "Janay Rice says she deeply regrets the role that she played the night of the incident,” thus proving no one learned a damn thing.
Mistake Maker(s): Whatever “social media specialist” runs the Ravens Twitter account/used to run the Ravens Twitter account.
May 20th - August 28th
Situation: The NFL announces it will begin its own investigation.
Mistake: The NFL announces it will begin its own investigation, leading to this series of events:
- On June 16th, Roger Goodell meets with Janay and Ray Rice in his office at league headquarters.
- There, in what has to be a very casual, comforting atmosphere, he talks with Janay Rice about what happened while THE MAN WHO ATTACKED HER and his bosses are right next to her in the room (a big ethical no-no).
- Janay swears that the "incident" in the elevator was a "one-time event," that "nothing physical had happened in their relationship before or since," and that punishing Ray would only "ruin Rice's image and career.”
- On July 27th, the NFL announces a two-game suspension for Rice (two games less than a suspension recently doled out by Goodell for marijuana abuse), a punishment Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome called “significant” but “fair.”
- On August 1st, Roger Goodell defends his punishment by saying, “I take into account all of the information before I make a decision on what the discipline will be. In this case, there was no discipline by the criminal justice system. They put him in that diversionary program.”
- On August 28th, after getting rightfully dragged across the digital hot coals of the internet, the NFL announces more serious punishments for domestic violence incidents (proving once again that we as fans have the power if ever actually want to use it).
Mistake Maker(s): Anyone remotely involved in this from the NFL side.
September 8th - 1:00 AM EDT
Situation: TMZ releases in-elevator footage from the night of the casino that explicitly shows Ray Rice punching Janay in the face, knocking her out cold.
Mistake: TMZ, again, should not be the one with all the power in this world.
Mistake Maker(s): Anyone whose job it is to be doing the things that TMZ is doing instead.
September 8th - 2:18PM EDT
Situation: The Ravens terminate Ray Rice’s contract and Roger Goodell announces Rice’s indefinite suspension shortly thereafter, both claiming to have never seen this footage before that day.
Mistake: By changing their punishment post video release, the Ravens and/or Goodell put themselves in a situation where either:
A) They’re telling the truth and hadn’t seen the video before, meaning TMZ was able to procure something the all powerful NFL’s legal team couldn’t, meaning someone in the NFL’s legal team should probably be fired. More importantly, this means that even though the NFL and the Ravens had known from the police report and the previous footage that Rice had struck Janay with his hands and knocked her unconscious, it wasn’t until they (and the rest of the world) had seen the in-elevator video that they decided that domestic abuse apparently really is a bad thing.
B) They’re lying and had seen the tape, yet were content to give Rice a two-game suspension and let that be that.
Mistake Maker(s): The NFL’s legal team and/or The NFL and/or the Ravens
September 8th - 11:15 PM EDT
Situation: The Associated Pressreports that it has viewed a higher-quality video provided by a law enforcement official. The video, which is slightly longer than the TMZ version and includes some audio, was shown to the AP on condition of anonymity because the official isn't authorized to release it.
Mistake: In the video, Rice and Palmer can be heard shouting obscenities at each other. According to the AP, after she collapses, he drags her out of the elevator and is met by some hotel staff. One of them can be heard saying, "She's drunk, right?" And then, "No cops." Rice doesn't respond.
Mistake Maker(s): Anyone who thought that today would be the end of all this.