Chris Matthews: 'Does Rush Limbaugh Hate This Country?'

Updated below. 

Chris Matthews questioned Rush Limbaugh’s patriotism on Wednesday night’s "Hardball," as the MSNBC host wondered how the radio talk show host could dare to oppose Barack Obama as he exclaimed to his viewers: "Does Rush Limbaugh hate this country?" Matthews jumped on a quote from Limbaugh saying of Obama, "I hope he fails," apparently not understanding the concept that Limbaugh opposes any and all who would promote liberal policies precisely because he believes they will be harmful to the country. To see Limbaugh's quote in full context visit his official site. Matthews slammed Limbaugh in the following tease before going to a commercial break (audio excerpt here):

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Up next, does Rush Limbaugh hate this country? Wait till you hear what he said about the new president. He wants him to fail. What an amazing-, I've never heard anybody say they wanted a new president to fail. Usually you want the new president to succeed and then later on you argue the politics of what he or she does. But to want them to fail at the outset? What's that about?

Later in his "Sideshow" segment Matthews aired a sound bite from Limbaugh and then snidely remarked: "Well Rush must have a lot of acorns squirreled away not to share everyone else's hopes that the economy does come back."

The following Matthews outbursts were aired on the January 21 edition of "Hardball":

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Up next, does Rush Limbaugh hate this country? Wait till you hear what he said about the new president. He wants him to fail. What an amazing. I've never heard anybody say they wanted a new president to fail. Usually you want the new president to succeed and then later on you argue the politics of what he or she does. But to want them to fail at the outset? What's that about?

...

MATTHEWS: But it turns out that not everyone has warm wishes for the new president. On Friday radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh said he was asked by a major print organization to offer 400 words on his hope for the Obama presidency. Here's what Rush had to say just days before the Inauguration.

RUSH LIMBAUGH: I disagree fervently with the people on our side of the aisle who have caved and who say, "Well I hope he succeeds. We've got to give him a chance." So I'm thinking of replying to the guy, okay I'll send you a response but I don't need 400 words. I need four. I hope he fails.

MATTHEWS: Well Rush must have a lot of acorns squirreled away not to share everyone else's hopes that the economy does come back.

Update (18:20): Later in the show Matthews returned to the Limbaugh bashing with his guest panelists:

MATTHEWS: Michael [Smerconish], Happy New Year. Happy, you’re not with Rush Limbaugh, by the way, you’re not, you’re not rooting for this guy’s failure?

JOAN WALSH, SALON: No.

MATTHEWS: I’m going to Smercon-, I know you don’t. Smerconish you’re not one of these radio guys that says, "Gee I hope this guy goes down in miserable defeat because that’ll help me, well my support group out on the highway selling stuff?" Is, is this your view? You hope Barack fails?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Hell no!

MATTHEWS: I know because-

SMERCONISH: No I think that is-

MATTHEWS: What is Rush Limbaugh’s problem? Rooting for the guy’s failure. What’s that all about?

SMERCONISH: You know unfortunately there’s a part of my industry that’s sort of predicated on stirring the pot and being the opposition. I want this guy to succeed. I looked at those images yesterday and, and I feel wonderful. Look at that First Family. Look at those daughters. You want to talk about the politics of this. Imagine the political capital that the two daughters are gonna bring to the table on behalf of the First Family. No, I want them to succeed. Absolutely!

...

MATTHEWS: But the bigger question to everybody is, if this guy fails, the only President we have, on the economy, taking office as it’s going down that’s killing everybody. How can you root for the failure of the only guy at, at the lever? At the steering wheel?

WALSH: It’s an outrageous thing. It’s an outrageous thing to say but Rush thrives on being outrageous. Michael is a smart conservative who, I believe endorsed - (interrupted)

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.