Chris Matthews began Wednesday's Hardball in usual fashion attacking the Tea Party as the "Cro-Magnon political party," but he ended this evening's show in an unexpected way as the MSNBCer advised that the more Obama "sells" his ideas to "the political middle the better his chances" and added "Those who argue otherwise don't know this country, its history or its basically conservative gut."
Matthews began his "Let Me Finish" segment by suggesting the reason former President Bill Clinton currently has a high approval rating was because he's "a reminder of a better economic time for an important other. But the real reason is that Bill Clinton...knew the key to political, as well as policy success, lies in keeping faith with the middle." [audio available here]
The following Matthews observations were aired on the September 29 edition of Hardball:
NBC's Savannah Guthrie, on Wednesday's Today show, proclaimed: "The President proved last night, in Wisconsin, he can still pack tens of thousands of young people into an arena" but lost on Guthrie was the fact that if Barack Obama has to campaign in one of the most reliably liberal cities -- in this case Madison, WI for incumbent Senator Russ Feingold -- it's not a good sign for the Democratic Party. While Guthrie did question if Obama could get those young voters to the polls, she went on to leave the impression that Obama's "old campaign magic" may be closing the gap as she noted: "The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows the race for Congress tightening. Republicans now hold a three point lead over Democrats among likely voters, down from a nine point lead last month."
What Guthrie failed to report was that same poll showed some very bad numbers for the Dems. As the MRC's Brent Baker noted, even Guthrie's NBC colleague Brian Williams couldn't ignore the poll results that showed: "'The change that voters want' includes 54 percent who 'hope that this Tea Party enthusiasm in the Republican Party makes them a fiscally conservative party' and '54 percent want to see the repeal of health care.'"
A frustrated Chris Matthews, on Tuesday's Hardball, chided the left for being disappointed in Barack Obama as he essentially told them, he's the best they've got and are going to get. During a segment in which the Salon's Joan Walsh and Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall wondered why Obama and Joe Biden were admonishing their base to stop whining, Matthews took up for Team Obama as he tried to calm down the lefties: "This president has done what we were all taught in graduate school to do, what progressives have believed in from years and years, decades ago...You compensate for the loss of consumer spending and business investment with government spending...No one has had a better idea since the 1930s. Number two, The Wall Street crowd needed governing. They didn't have any, now they've got some. Number three, he's pushed for progressive taxation, he's going after the rich. He's not giving them their tax cut." [audio available here]
At the end of his program, a desperate sounding Matthews listed a bunch of races Democrats still had a chance in, and then pleaded to the left to unify behind those candidates because "the bad guys are gaining." (video & audio of "Let Me Finish" segment below the fold)
The following exchange was aired on the September 28 edition of Hardball:
Prior to tonight's debut of Lawrence O'Donnell's new show, The Last Word, MSNBC has been running promos where O'Donnell proclaims how much "political pressure there is on everyone involved" in governing decisions and that it leaves him "respecting every one who steps into that room to do that," adding he's "gonna disagree with some of those people" but will always "respect the strength it takes to go on in there." Well "respect" was the last thing O'Donnell displayed to a couple of guests that appeared with him on various MSNBC programs.
Back on the February 12 edition of Morning Joe, he was such was in such a rage against former George W. Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen, going as far as to blame that administration for the 9/11 attacks, host Joe Scarborough actually had to call the proverbial whistle on him and stop the program, to let him cool down. However, when they got back from a commercial break O'Donnell launched into yet another tirade as he called Thiessen a "torture-monger." (video below the fold)
Perhaps O'Donnell's worst performance came on the October 22, 2004 edition of Scarborough Country when he want lashed out against Vietnam veteran John O'Neill of the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth for daring to challenge then presidential candidate John Kerry's veracity, as he repeatedly called him a "liar" and charged he did nothing to stop the war.
The following are transcripts of those unhinged attacks by O'Donnell:
With just five weeks to go before the midterms NBC-Universal devoted a full half hour of commercial free air time, across its many properties including MSNBC, USA, Bravo and even Syfy, so that President Obama could offer his views on the state of public education and yes even lash out against Republicans, something Matt Lauer, on Monday's Today show, pushed him to do. Initially invited on to discuss education, the President was, essentially urged by Lauer to take a swipe at the GOP as he asked "Do you intend to change your tone or your emotion in terms of your pushing back?" [audio available here]
MATT LAUER: We are five weeks before the midterm elections and it's getting pretty heated, there's no question. You said at a speech recently, you said, you know, "The Republicans they're treating me like a dog." There's a lot of rhetoric out there, coming from the Republicans toward you, coming from the Tea Party toward you.
BARACK OBAMA: Right.
LAUER: Former President Clinton said he doesn't think the Democrats, and you included, have been rigorous enough in pushing back against some of the Republican attacks. Over these next five weeks, Mr. President, do you intend to change your tone or your emotion in terms of your pushing back?
As part of a sweeping NBC-Universal channel wide broadcast that included NBC outlets like MSNBC, USA, Bravo, Syfy and the Oxygen network, Barack Obama was interviewed by Matt Lauer, on Monday's Today, about the state of public education but in a commercial-free half-hour of interview time, Lauer never once asked the President about his opposition to school vouchers, including a very popular program in Washington D.C.
In fact Lauer missed couple of opportunities to press Obama on the issue, when he made reference to the documentary Waiting For Superman, and when an audience member actually pressed Obama if he thought his daughters would "get the same high quality rigorous education in a D.C. public school as compared to their very elite private academy that they're attending now?"
For his part Obama audaciously responded to Kelly Burnett of Florida: "There are some terrific individual schools, in the D.C. system. And that's true, by the way, in every city across the country" but "A lot of times you've gotta test in or there, it's a lottery pick for you to be able to get into those schools. And so those options are not available enough children....I'll be very honest with you. Given my position, if I wanted to find a great public school for Malia and Sasha to be in, we could probably maneuver to do it. But the broader problem is for a mom or a dad who are working hard but don't have a bunch of connections, don't have a lot of choice in terms of where they live."
Lawrence O'Donnell starts his new show The Last Word on Monday night, and over the past few years, O'Donnell put together quite the audition tape to land him a hosting gig for the ever more left-leaning network.
On November 13th, 2009, substitute hosting for Keith Olbermann on his MSNBC show Countdown, O'Donnell engaged in a favorite pastime of that show's regular host, bashing Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin as he managed to paint both of them as idiots in one single rant.
Monday night marks the debut of Lawrence O'Donnell's very own show, called The Last Word, on MSNBC and if his guest spots on various programs on that network and the syndicated McLaughlin Group over the last few years are any indication, he's bound to give Keith Olbermann a run for his money for over-the-top loony tirades.
O'Donnell reared his bigoted side on the December 8, 2007 edition of the McLaughlin Group. He not only went after former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, but also his faith, seen in the following rants he made after the former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate delivered a speech defending his "demented, Scientology-like" Mormon faith:
Chris Matthews thinks the Republican Party's Pledge to America is all part of a ploy to hide the more "radical" ideas of their party as he, on Thursday's Hardball, announced that the GOP "manifesto" could be "the biggest cover up since Watergate." Matthews went on to speculate that with the Pledge, the Republican members of Congress were doing their best to "disguise the much more serious, more radical proposals" of the Tea Party. The suspicious Matthews then went on to tally the allegedly secret agenda of the GOP that was "hidden under the table." [audio available here]
The following Matthews rants were aired on the September 23 edition of Hardball:
Back in 1994, as the MRC's Brent Baker recalled earlier today with video, Tom Brokaw derided the Contract with America as "long on promises, but short on sound premises." So on the very day that Republican House members were set to announce their Pledge to America, who did NBC's Today show bring on to discuss it? House Minority Leader John Boehner? Rising Republican star Paul Ryan? No, on Thursday's Today, Meredith Vieira invited on Brokaw to, once again, rain on the GOP's parade as he claimed the Pledge doesn't "address, in many ways, some of the toughest issues that are still before us, Medicare, Social Security." [audio available here]
NBC's Tamron Hall blared, "It's being called 'corruption on steroids'" while George Lewis added, "It's been an angry summer in Bell, California, once people learned that city officials awarded themselves huge six figure salaries at taxpayer's expense." However neither of them mentioned, in two different stories on Wednesday's Today show, that those corrupt officials belonged to the Democratic Party. Lewis, strangely, couldn't even bother to identify the party of Jerry Brown -- who has a soundbite in the piece going after the officials -- as he just called him "The California attorney general running for governor."
Incidentally, the Today show wasn't the only news outlet to conveniently drop the "D" label next to those officials accused of bilking California taxpayers. As Newsbusters' Lachlan Markay pointed out on Tuesday, "ABC, CBS, the Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press, Bloomberg, USA Today, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and the San Francisco Chronicle all reported on the arrests today without mentioning party affiliations."
Bill Maher was invited on Chris Matthews' Hardball show, on Tuesday night, to discuss his old guest panelist Christine O'Donnell's controversial statements about practicing witchcraft in high school, but it was the HBO host's take on Jimmy Carter's recent round of interviews that was particularly jarring as he told Matthews that he wished Barack Obama was a little more like that failed president. Prompted by the one-time Carter speechwriter to comment on his former boss, Maher professed: "I love Jimmy Carter! Jimmy Carter is so honest and out there. You know sometimes, I hear people say, 'Oh, Obama, his term could become like Jimmy Carter's.' Yeah, I wish. You know Jimmy Carter did some real bold things, like returning the Panama Canal. Can you see a president trying to do that today? Or, or getting on national television and telling the American people that they're lazy and they're using too much energy?...I think this country needs a lot more of that sort of forthright honesty." [audio available here]
As for O'Donnell, Maher initially claimed she was "a liar" but, in a blatant booking plea, quickly amended, "But I like her." And after Matthews played a clip of O'Donnell commenting on scientific experiments Maher, along with Matthews, took the opportunity to take a shot at all those science-hating Republicans:
It seems like every few years there's a new mascot for Team Global Warming. First it was the polar bear, then the Arctic fox and now it's the walrus's turn. On Monday's Today show, Lee Cowan traveled to Point Lay, Alaska to report on how shrinking ice sheets are leaving walruses stranded, in between their feedings, adding: "Much like the polar bear, they can't swim forever." In fact it didn't take long for Cowan to bring up the dreaded specter of global warming as he aired a soundbite of a local tribal president worrying: "I always thought the Arctic would be cold, but scientists tell us that there's global warming going on." Cowan even used another local resident to suggest that if something wasn't done soon, that in 10 years "we won't have any" animals.
The following is a full transcript of the segment as it was aired on the September 20 Today show:
NBC's Matt Lauer invited on Jimmy Carter, on Monday's Today, to defend his record and comment on the Tea Party movement as the former President claimed if "all my reforms" had "taken effect" the United States wouldn't be having any energy problems right now and hoped that by 2012 any influence of the Tea Party would be "dissipated." On to promote his new book, White House Diary, Carter also praised the passage of Obamacare but claimed its opponents had "cast it in a very negative light, which it does not deserve." For the most part, Lauer tossed softballs at Carter and since he'll be interviewing another former president, George W. Bush, when his memoir comes out in November, it'll be interesting to see if the Today co-anchor handles that interview in a similar friendly fashion.
The following excerpt of Lauer's interview with Carter is from the September 20 Today show:
Today co-anchor Matt Lauer, on Monday morning, couldn't wait to tell viewers about the revelation that Christine O'Donnell once admitted to practicing witchcraft, as he greeted viewers at the top of the very top of the show: "Casting a spell. She's already won her state's Republican Senate primary and captured headlines across the country. Now a video surfaces showing Christine O'Donnell admitting she dabbled in witchcraft as a high schooler." Lauer's colleague Kelly O'Donnell, then went on to dredge up clips from Bill Maher's old Politically Incorrect show as she called the Delaware GOP Senate nominee a "tempest in the Tea Party."
While most of Kelly O'Donnell's piece was devoted to Christine O'Donnell's "witchcraft talk" that didn't keep her from mentioning that the Tea Party was causing "tension" in the Alaska Senate race: "And there's more Tea Party tension brewing for Republicans. Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, who lost her primary, jumped back in the race." O'Donnell also aired a clip of Murkowski claiming her victorious primary opponent Joe Miller had "extremist views."
In the fourth hour of Thursday's Today show NBC's Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb took a strong stance against the right to smoke, pretty much everywhere, as both endorsed Mayor Mike Bloomberg's proposed ban that goes several steps further than just restaurants. During the opening chat session of the hour, Kotbe announced: "So some good news in New York City...Mayor Bloomberg is considering banning smoking in all places like parks, beaches and Times Square." Gifford also praised the move declaring that "Second-hand smoke is a bigger killer than asbestos or a lot of other things" but later seemed to contradict herself as she proclaimed: "I'm all for personal rights. I'm becoming more and more of a libertarian the older I get."
The following is the full exchange as it was aired on the September 16 Today show:
It's quite possible NBC's Meredith Vieira has never shown more concern about the Republican Party's ability to win elections than she did on Thursday's Today show, of course that may be because conservative Tea Party candidates are now forcing out the more moderate members of its ranks. In a segment entitled, "Tea Time, Is The Tea Party Hurting The GOP?" the Today co-anchor invited on Republican Senator Jim DeMint to question if conservative candidates like Christine O'Donnell "can win in November?" To which DeMint responded that the conservative candidates he's been supporting are doing just fine: "Well Meredith, they told me Marco Rubio couldn't win. And he is blowing it away in Florida because he's telling people the truth. And they said the same thing about Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania and Rand Paul in Kentucky. They're well ahead in, in the polls because people want a change in Washington."
The following is the full interview with DeMint as it was aired on the September 16 Today show:
NBC's Kelly O'Donnell, on Wednesday's Today show, in reporting on yesterday's primary results threw the conservative label around, as she identified several Republicans that way, but for some reason couldn't manage to attach the "liberal" label when it came time to talk about ethics challenged New York Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel.
O'Donnell began her piece noting that "Democrats are suddenly very excited" about their chances of winning the open Delaware Senate seat due to "the conservative rebellion" that led to Christine O'Donnell's win in the GOP primary, adding that the "conservative" O'Donnell "was propelled by several Tea Party groups." O'Donnell even relayed Democratic spin that O'Donnell was "an ultra right wing extremist." However when it came to talking about Rangel's primary win the NBC correspondent didn't bother to attach an ideological label, merely calling him "20-term Congressman Charlie Rangel." In total, Kelly O'Donnell used the "conservative" label five times in her piece but never once indentified any of the Democrats brought up in her story as a liberal.
The following is the full O'Donnell story as it was aired on the September 15 Today show:
NBC's Andrea Mitchell reporting live from Tehran on Tuesday's Today show, on the American hikers held hostage in Iran, relayed Iranian government spin, that the Ground Zero mosque protest and controversial Koran "desecrations" have "added to the tension here, the anti-American spirit." Spurred by a question from substitute anchor Carl Quintanilla about the protests in New York city, Mitchell actually held up one of the state-owned newspapers and relayed that "if the government needed any excuse to drum up more anti-American fever," they have it, as she noted "all the headlines" in Iran are about the "desecration" and "burning" threats of the Koran.
The following segment was aired on the September 14 Today show:
NBC's Meredith Vieira, on Tuesday's Today show, demonstrated just how out of touch she is on the Tea Party and the economy as she questioned GOP House members, "Are you worried about the influence of the Tea Party?" and even doubted the positive effect tax cuts can have on creating jobs as she questioned: "What's so good about them?" [audio available here]
On to promote their new book Young Guns: A New Generation of Conservative Leaders, Republican Congressmen Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy were on hand to school the Today anchor, with Cantor having to explain to Vieira that "the last thing you want to do in an economy like this with 9.6 percent unemployment is have a big tax increase on small businesses," as seen in the following exchange:
VIEIRA: One of the key issues also heading into the midterm elections, is this expiration of the tax cuts, Bush's tax cuts. Over the weekend, your leader I guess, your boss, Minority Leader John Boehner said that he would support tax cuts for just middle income earners, if that was his only option. Yesterday he took that back, he did an about-face. Why?
Well you have to give Chris Matthews credit for admitting the obvious. On Monday's Hardball, as he overlooked the bad environment for Democrats this midterm season, Matthews appeared grateful he didn't make his much rumored run for Pennsylvania's Senate seat, as he asked one of his guests: "Do you think it could be the year where guys...like me were smart not to make the run?" [audio available here]
The admission came during a segment in which Matthews, the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza and local radio talk show host, Dan Gaffney of WGMD, were breaking down the prospects for Christine O'Donnell to upset Republican Mike Castle and go on to win the general election for the Deleware Senate seat with Gaffney explaining that it was a distinct possibility since there is "a lot of anti-establishment, anti-incumbent sentiment" in that state, calling that race "a crap-shoot." This caused Matthews to wonder, if in fact, that attitude extended to Pennsylvania as he asked Gaffney the following question:
NBC's Meredith Vieira, on Thursday's Today show, invited on New York Republican Congressman Peter King and CAIR's Zead Ramadan to discuss the potential burning of Korans by Pastor Terry Jones and the furor over the Ground Zero mosque, but it was only King that was pressed by the Today anchor, as Vieira let Ramadan go unchallenged even when he equated opposition to the mosque to internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II and even slavery.
First up, Vieira, after playing a clip of Feisal Abdul-Rauf, recited the Imam's concerns to King that if he moved the location of the mosque now it "would just be fueling the radicals" to which the New York Congressman shot back that "he seems to be equating the 71 percent of Americans who oppose this as being radicals." Then Vieira let CAIR's Ramadan go on, uninterrupted, as he proceeded to compare the protest surrounding the Ground Zero mosque to some of America's worst moments of intolerance as he went on to say: "The issue with the public sentiment is that when an issue is related to bigotry, unfortunately our history has shown that sometimes we're on the wrong side. For example we interred Japanese during World War II, we segregated our military, our schools, and it took on Executive Order to undo that. And we also enslaved our fellow Americans. So I mean when it comes to bigotry we've got to be careful about the public sentiment." [audio available here]
The following is the full segment as it was aired on the September 9 Today show:
Chris Matthews is still getting a thrill up his leg, and even further, when he hears Barack Obama speak, as the MSNBCer, on Monday's Hardball, announced to the world "I get the same thrill up my leg, all over me," whenever he listens to Obama's 2004 Democratic convention speech. Matthews also revealed he is really sensitive about how his "thrill" moments are described, as he took offense when a guest inaccurately labeled it a "tingle" as Matthews shot back: "It wasn't a tingle, up my leg, that's what right wing fascists say. I got a thrill up my leg. Okay? You're reading the right wing blogs. Start tuning your station." [audio available here]
Matthews, however, is quite aware that the rest of the country doesn't share the same all over body thrill he does as he asked his guests, Roger Simon of the Politico and Jim Kessler of Third Way, "Can President Obama stir us again and help his party keep power this November?"
The following is the full segment as it was aired on the September 7 Hardball:
It's no secret that Chris Matthews once flirted with the idea of running for Senate in Pennsylvania, but since he didn't throw his hat into that race, the Hardball host, on Thursday night, did everything he could to help Joe Sestak beat Republican Pat Toomey, as he urged: "I hope your party gets organized up there, because the Democratic Party of Ed Rendell and you and all those other guys ought to get together with Brady andwin this thing!" And even before Matthews invited viewers to "Meet Joe Sestak" in an interview segment, the MSNBCer began cheerleading for him in a preview as he teased: "Up next, Joe Sestak from my home state of Pennsylvania, he's fighting hard, the good fight against Pat Toomey, the Club for Growther of the far right." [audio available here]
The following exchanges were aired on the September 2 edition of Hardball:
NBC's Matt Lauer wanted one question to stick in the minds of his Today show viewers, as from the top of Wednesday's show, to his interview with Vice President Joe Biden, the Today co-anchor repeatedly asked was the Iraq war "worth it?" As part of the analysis of the President's Oval Office speech last night, in which Barack Obama announced an end to U.S. combat operations in Iraq, Lauer invited on Biden, in the 7am half hour, to press him about the costs of the war as he asked: "There is a question being asked in homes all across the country this morning, after seven years and 4,400 lives and tens of thousands of U.S. servicemen and women wounded, some of them horrifically, and of course billions and billions of dollars spent, was Iraq worth it?" [audio available here]
For his part Biden responded that since he had a son who served in Iraq for a year, "I could never say to any of those parents it's not worth it" but that didn't dissuade Lauer from pursuing his line of questioning, from the left, as he cited a New York Times editorial to the Vice President:
On the day that the U.S. is ending combat operations in Iraq, the Today show, on Tuesday, brought on their chief foreign correspondent to essentially say the Iraq war wasn't worth it. The noted anti-war reporter, when asked by Today co-anchor Ann Curry did, "Anything positive come from this war?" proceeded to dump on the entire mission as he relayed that Iraqis are upset that the United States "has failed to deliver on its promises," claimed that Saddam Hussein, before the war, was "getting more moderate" and concluded that the mission was "a giant distraction of resources" and if not for the invasion of Iraq, the war in Afghanistan "would probably be over." [audio available here]
As the MRC's Tim Graham pointed out in 2006, Engel isn't exactly the most objective analyst the Today show could've brought on to analyze the war, as he admitted to the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz that he thinks "war should be illegal" and he told him "I'm basically a pacifist."
The following is the full exchange between Curry and Engel as it was aired on the August 31 Today show:
The news that it could be a good year for women electorally did not cheer up the likes of MSNBC's Chris Matthews, Bloomberg's Margaret Carlson and the Politico's Jeanne Cummings, because it turns out it's only going to be a good year for women on the Republican side like Nikki Haley, Meg Whitman, and Carly Fiorina or as Carlson put it: "It's not a compassionate women year." [audio available here]
Matthews, on Monday's Hardball, invited on Carlson and Cummings to take a look at "gender politics" and found that it could be a good year for women, just not the kind of women they like, in other words the more conservative momma grizzly types that Sarah Palin supports. Cummings even bemoaned that a loss of the House could result in "one giant blow to women" in that it "could take down the Speaker, Speaker Nancy Pelosi" who was "a real shining star for the achievements and the rise of women in government."
The following is the full segment as it was aired on the August 30 edition of Hardball:
NBC's Matt Lauer, on Monday's Today show, invited on the not-so balanced panel of the Reverend Al Sharpton and the NAACP's Ben Jealous to analyze Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally that took place on the 47th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I have a dream speech" with Jealous proclaiming that "if Dr. King stood up there" the conservatives in attendance would not have "responded well" to him. Jealous went on to say Dr. King's "last campaign" was the "poor people's campaign. To make sure that all people...can find a good job, all kids can go to a great school. And Mr. Beck, that's not what he talks about. And that's not, that doesn't seem to be what he actually wants." This led Lauer, ignoring the fact that rally attendees also want those things, that they just differ on the methods to get there, to observe: "It seems like you guys are saying, without saying, that you're looking at what happened and you're looking at Glenn Beck as somewhat of a wolf in sheep's clothing."
The following Kelly O'Donnell set-up piece and Lauer interview with Sharpton and Jealous was aired on the August 30 Today show:
Today co-anchor Matt Lauer traveled to New Orleans, on Friday, to mark the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and interviewed the likes of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, former FEMA Director Mike Brown, current Democratic Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, but saved any sort of direct shots at George W. Bush for his interview with Laura Bush.
At the very end of his August 27 interview about her charitable work in the region, Lauer laid the following guilt trip on the former First Lady: [audio available here]
NBC's Tom Costello, on Friday's Today show, in previewing Glenn Beck's rally at the Lincoln Memorial this weekend, focused on the racial insensitivity of the Tea Partiers as he reminded NBC's viewers that at last year's rally in Washington "there were a lot of signs that had rather racist overtones. The concern is that might be repeated this time. By the way, many Beck followers, who are coming, are being urged to avoid African-American areas and avoid conflict."
Costello began his story noting that while "Glenn Beck says that Dr. King is a hero of his" he is still "defiant in his right to be here" and then went on to cite political analyst Stu Rothenberg in insisting "this weekend's event could carry risk for Republicans."
The following is the full Costello story as it was aired on the August 27 Today show: