Matthews 'Warming Up To' Hillary, Fox's Wallace a Partisan 'Ignoramus'

On Wednesday's "Countdown" show, just minutes before the beginning of the night's Democratic debate coverage on MSNBC, Chris Matthews remarked that he was "warming up to Hillary these days," while host Keith Olbermann responded that "I don't have anything to warm up from."

Matthews also attacked Fox's "partisanship" and suggested that its anchor, Chris Wallace, is an "ignoramus."

"When [Wallace is] the one that took down her husband a few months ago and he's talking about excessive partisanship. ... He's there representing Fox Television putting down partisanship. What? Of course she had to laugh. What else could she say, 'You're an ignoramus'?" (Transcript follows)

Olbermann had brought up Senator Clinton's tendency to deal with blunt questions with laughter. Olbermann: "There's some inside baseball to this, but is that a good strategy? Is that working for her? And do you expect that a lot tonight?"

Matthews responded: "Well, if Chris Wallace asked the question and he's talking about partisanship and he's from Fox Television, I think that might be laughable, when he's the one that took down her husband a few months ago and he's talking about excessive partisanship. ... He's there representing Fox Television putting down partisanship. What? Of course she had to laugh. What else could she say, 'You're an ignoramus'?"

The "Hardball" host was referring to Wallace's first question to Senator Hillary Clinton from the September 23 "Fox News Sunday," which had evoked laughter from her. After showing a clip of Bill Clinton accusing the Fox anchor of doing "Fox's bidding" and of doing a "conservative hit job," Wallace had asked: "Senator, talk about conservative hit jobs, right-wing conspiracies. Why do you and the President have such a hyper-partisan view of politics?"

Matthews then brought up that he had "warmed up to" Senator Clinton: "But if you need a laugh track for a comment, for a joke, you got a problem. I thought Hillary was pretty funny there, which is great. I'm warming up to Hillary these days. Aren't you warming up to Hillary? I think she's doing well."

Olbermann seemed to suggest his opinion of Senator Clinton is high enough that he doesn't need to warm up to her: "I haven't, I don't have anything to warm up from."

Below are transcripts of the relevant portions of the Wednesday, September 26 "Countdown" show from MSNBC, followed by a portion of the September 23 "Fox News Sunday":

From the Wednesday September 26 "Countdown":

KEITH OLBERMANN: One thing that Chuck Todd pointed out this morning, as to watch tonight, how often Senator Clinton has developed this apparently defensive technique of laughing in response to a very critical question. There's some inside baseball to this, but is that a good strategy? Is that working for her? And do you expect that a lot tonight?

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well, if Chris Wallace asked the question and he's talking about partisanship and he's from Fox Television, I think that might be laughable, when he's the one that took down her husband a few months ago and he's talking about excessive partisanship. Excuse me, am I talking to Keith Olbermann? He's there representing Fox Television putting down partisanship. What? Of course she had to laugh. What else could she say, "you're an ignoramus"? She had to say something polite. Right? It seemed to me. That would be my opinion.

OLBERMANN: Well, yeah, if it works, it's great. If it doesn't work, you-

MATTHEWS: Well, the problem is nobody laughed because Chris wasn't going to help her by giving her a Mondale-style laugh to a Reagan joke. ... He wasn't gonna do it.

OLBERMANN, laughing: A Mondale-

MATTHEWS: But if you need a laugh track for a comment, for a joke, you got a problem. I thought Hillary was pretty funny there, which is great. I'm warming up to Hillary these days. Aren't you warming up to Hillary? I think she's doing well.

OLBERMANN: I haven't, I don't have anything to warm up from.

From the September 23 Fox News Sunday:

CHRIS WALLACE: Senator, in an interesting bit of karma, we are talking on the first anniversary of my interview with your husband, and I would like to show you a clip from that interview. Here it is.

BILL CLINTON, dated September 24, 2006: You did Fox's bidding on this show. You did your nice little conservative hit job on me.

WALLACE: Senator, talk about conservative hit jobs, right-wing conspiracies. Why do you and the President have such a hyper-partisan view of politics?

HILLARY CLINTON, after laughing: Oh, Chris, if you had walked even a day in our shoes over the last 15 years, I'm sure you'd understand. But, you know, the real goal for our country right now is to get beyond partisanship. And I'm sure trying to do my part. Because we've got a lot of serious problems that we're trying to deal with.

This week I rolled out my American Health Choices Plan. I'm going to work very hard to travel around the country, talk about why we need to tackle quality, affordable health care for every American. We've got to deal with the economy and some of the problems that people are facing in the mortgage market, and the fact that a lot of people are not getting ahead.

You know, in the last six years, the average family income has dropped $1,000. That's not good news for our economy or for real hard-working people.

So what I'm focused on is coming forth with ideas that I believe are in the best interest of our country, and clearly around the world we've got to restore America's leadership. That starts with ending the war in Iraq and bringing our troops home, but there's a lot more to do. And I think it would be great if we had a debate on the substance, that we really talked about what each of us will bring to the White House, because I'm excited by what I hear as I travel around America.

I think people are ready to start acting like Americans again. They want to roll up their sleeves, they want to tackle these tough problems, and I believe we can. And I'm confident and optimistic that we can make progress together again starting January 20, 2009.

Brad Wilmouth
Brad Wilmouth is a contributing blogger to NewsBusters