Obama was 'shocked' by Rice video, chief of staff says

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said Sunday that President Obama was "shocked" by the video of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice hitting his then fiancee and a Democratic senator called the National Football League's handling of the situation "outrageous."

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who has become an advocate on the issue of sexual harassment in the military -- as well as sexism in Congress -- said that the Ravens and the league should have taken faster action in dealing with Rice.


"I think the way the NFL handled this was awful, it was outrageous," the Democrat said on CBS's Face the Nation. "They had all the facts they needed. They had a player who admitted to beating his wife. They had video of him dragging her out of an elevator. There was nothing left to determine. That player should have been fired immediately."

Speaking on NBC's Meet the Press, McDonough declined to address the NFL's handling of the situation but said that he had spoken with the president about Rice.


"The president was shocked by what he saw, let's put it that way," said McDonough. "I think we all know that Ray Rice being suspended indefinitely seems to be exactly the right thing."

The comments are the latest example of elected leaders  putting pressure on the league over the issue. Gillibrand was one of 16 female senators -- along with Maryland Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski -- who penned a letter this week to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell requesting that the league adopt a zero-tolerance policy on domestic violence.

On Sunday, Gillibrand said the controversy underscored broader cultural problems with large institutions, including the military and college campuses.

"It's about this larger issue of are women being valued?" she said.

But Gillibrand stopped short of calling for Goodell's ouster -- at least for now.

"Initially, I want him to lead the reform to actually create and enforce a zero tolerance policy," she said. "But given the recent debate, if he's lied, if he lied to the American people, then he has to step down."