Matthews Mocks Palin, Her Supporters and Even the Reporters Covering Her

Chris Matthews mocked Sarah Palin, her supporters and even some in the press who covered her as he went on one diatribe after another on Monday's Hardball. Matthews insulted Palin and her supporters by asking the Politico's Jonathan Martin if the Palin supporters he interviewed "take her seriously," and "Were they all white people?"

Matthews then went on to chide Martin and the USA Today's Susan Page for being "softened up" by Palin who "tickles all you guys under your chin" at her Gridiron Club appearance over the weekend, as he prodded, "Don't you essentially disrespect somebody who walks in and puts a book on the table and said they wrote it, when you know somebody else did?" and reminded them that Palin attacked the press during the campaign as he taunted:

She campaigned on her antipathy to the press trashing Katie Couric for asking the easiest, hardball question in the world, "What do you read?" She blamed Katie Couric for asking the most obvious question. She then went after Charlie Gibson, one of the nicest guys in this business and trashed him for being elitist.

First up in the segment, Matthews repeated his concern about the ethnicity of Palin's supporters:

MATTHEWS: When you went out to interview them, did they take her seriously as a presidential type? I'm not saying gonna vote for, do they see her in that league?

MARTIN: Absolutely. I talked to a lot of voters in that line because there was a long line and there was plenty of time waiting. And almost to a person they said that they would like to see her run for president. And that they would not just vote for her, but would caucus for her, too. That's an important distinction. Because a lot of her supporters are not party regular types. They have not, Chris, caucused in the past. So this would be-

MATTHEWS: Were they all white people?

MARTIN: Almost entirely.

MATTHEWS: What do you mean almost?

MARTIN: I saw one African-American.

MATTHEWS: Okay, But it is a certain sort of, what do you call it, socio-metric group that she appeals to.

Then Matthews chided his guests for buying into Palin's writing career:

MATTHEWS: Does it bother the press that somebody comes in there, whose book was written for them - and this is people who work. You write every day. You sweat it out getting the right words, thinking how to organize a piece, intellectualizing it and then putting it on paper. And I'm sorry, and reporting it to start with. It's a lot of work, being a reporter. I've seen you guys on deadline. It's hard work. Don't you essentially disrespect somebody who walks in and puts a book on the table and said they wrote it, when you know somebody else did? Who comes in and gives a speech that you know somebody else wrote all the jokes for and gave it to her and she paid for it probably? Doesn't that bother you guys? I'm arguing there.

PAGE: You know I think if it's, I think if it's not, if it's not-

MATTHEWS: Does it bother you?

PAGE: No.

MATTHEWS: Why doesn't it bother you?

PAGE: Because if it's in her voice, like the book, I read her book, it's in her voice. It sounds just like her. Maybe she doesn't write it, it does reflect her in a way. And the idea, you who, you who've written-

MATTHEWS: But she didn't sweat it out.

PAGE: You have written many speeches for politicians.

MATTHEWS: And I've written them and I've written books. And, and I take-

PAGE: Does it offend you?

MATTHEWS: But I have tremendous respect for you guys, on the bus, when I see you guys. I'll sit on a bus somewhere, covering a campaign, and all of a sudden one of you people from the big papers, and all of a sudden I'll see a 1,500 word piece taken and you've somehow gotten it done, in the same time I've been with you? I say, "When did you write this thing?" I mean there's a lot of talent she doesn't have, and yet she takes credit for it.

PAGE: It's not, it's not the talent that we ask the political figures to have. We ask them to have other talents like points of view.

MATTHEWS: Well why do you let them take credit for books and speeches they didn't write?

And finally Matthews pulled back the curtain to reveal reporters just longed for Palin to get into the race, no doubt because she makes great copy and because the same reporters hope to get in more shots at Palin's expense:

MATTHEWS: Is this the new press treatment of Sarah Palin?

PAGE: Yeah, it is.

MATTHEWS: Why? You want her in this race, right?

PAGE: Right, right.

MATTHEWS: You're luring her in. Look at this. Sarah, Governor, you watching? She's luring you into this race. "C'mon we're gonna be so nice to you. Eat the candy."...I can tell she softened you guys up. She treated you with respect...biggest smart move.

MARTIN: You know here's the message by her appearance, though, I think.

MATTHEWS: The Press Club, the group.

MARTIN: "Yeah I take some shots at you guys, but you get it, it's just part of the game." I think that's what-

MATTHEWS: She campaigned on her antipathy to the press-

MARTIN: I know.

MATTHEWS: -trashing Katie Couric for asking the easiest, hardball question in the world, "What do you read?"

MARTIN: So if I was a Palin supporter, If I was-

MATTHEWS: She blamed Katie Couric for asking the most obvious question.

MARTIN: Right.

MATTHEWS: She then went after Charlie Gibson, one of the nicest guys in this business and trashed him for being elitist. You know don't tell me she hasn't played this game.

MARTIN: Of course she's played the game. But what I'm saying is, then she shows up here and sort of plays nice with the same crowd. So which is it?

MATTHEWS: And tickles all you guys under your chin and you go, "Oh I just love this!"

The following is the entire transcript of the exchanges as they were aired on the December 7 edition of Hardball:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Sarah Palin was everywhere this weekend. Here in D.C and Washington, she spoke at the Gridiron Club Saturday night. On Sunday she was in the key 2012 state of Iowa signing books for people who lined up overnight to meet her and apparently gonna work, she's already working the Iowa caucus it seems. And also her former running mate john McCain praised her this weekend in glowing terms. Is she well positioned for 2012? USA Today's Susan Page was at the Gridiron Club on Saturday night, part of the team. And Politico's Jonathan Martin was at the Sioux City, Iowa bookstore. Well I gotta go to Sioux City because I have a theory that they have more votes in the Iowa Caucus than the, than Capitol Hill. Well let me ask you about, when people you interviewed as a straight print reporter, the best there is.

JONATHAN MARTIN, POLITICO: Yes sir.

MATTHEWS: When you went out to interview them, did they take her seriously as a presidential type? I'm not saying gonna vote for, do they see her in that league?

MARTIN: Absolutely. I talked to a lot of voters in that line because there was a long line and there was plenty of time waiting. And almost to a person they said that they would like to see her run for president. And that they would not just vote for her, but would caucus for her, too. That's an important distinction. Because a lot of her supporters are not party regular types. They have not, Chris, caucused in the past. So this would be-

MATTHEWS: Were they all white people?

MARTIN: Almost entirely.

MATTHEWS: What do you mean almost?

MARTIN: I saw one African-American.

MATTHEWS: Okay, But it is a certain sort of, what do you call it, socio-metric group that she appeals to.

MARTIN: Absolutely. It's a working class, middle class group. Very populist, very conservative. Not always, but again not always totally Republican. Some of these folks come from outside the party. Which is why she's so formidable. She could enlarge the caucuses by bring in folks that don't typically participate.

MATTHEWS: Okay who are they?

MARTIN: They are evangelical Christians. They are folks that have kids, with, with, you know, Down Syndrome, like she does.

MATTHEWS: Sure.

MARTIN: They are sportsmen. They are folks that are really ticked off at Washington. Very, very angry that sort of tea party crowd. That is her element. That's her demographic. And they feel very strongly about her. And they're willing to camp out overnight to see her in 10-degree weather, and then they're going to wait the next morning for five hours until she gets there. This is a dedicated crowd.

MATTHEWS: Okay here she is, and just this weekend, just to show she can switch hit, she was before your crowd, the more mature journalists in Washington. No it takes a while to get in that club. I'm respectable. It's a respectable group. But didn't she do a lot of self-deprecation, the other night, to show that she could be one of the boys?

SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY: You know she did it and this was not her demographic. This was not a group that she thinks is...

MATTHEWS: It was a self-important Washington journalist crowd.

PAGE: Yeah it's a kind of, people who have given her a pretty rough ride I think in print. She was self-deprecating. She gave a few barbs too...

MATTHEWS: And who wrote this stuff for her?

PAGE: Well I hear second hand that Eric Schnur who's a-

MATTHEWS: Does it bother the press that somebody comes in there, whose book was written for them - and this is people who work. You write every day. You sweat it out getting the right words, thinking how to organize a piece, intellectualizing it and then putting it on paper. And I'm sorry, and reporting it to start with. It's a lot of work, being a reporter. I've seen you guys on deadline. It's hard work. Don't you essentially disrespect somebody who walks in and puts a book on the table and said they wrote it, when you know somebody else did? Who comes in and gives a speech that you know somebody else wrote all the jokes for and gave it to her and she paid for it probably? Doesn't that bother you guys? I'm arguing there.

PAGE: You know I think if it's, I think if it's not, if it's not-

MATTHEWS: Does it bother you?

PAGE: No.

MATTHEWS: Why doesn't it bother you?

PAGE: Because if it's in her voice, like the book, I read her book, it's in her voice. It sounds just like her. Maybe she doesn't write it, it does reflect her in a way. And the idea, you who, you who've written-

MATTHEWS: But she didn't sweat it out.

PAGE: You have written many speeches for politicians.

MATTHEWS: And I've written them and I've written books. And, and I take-

PAGE: Does it offend you?

MATTHEWS: But I have tremendous respect for you guys, on the bus, when I see you guys. I'll sit on a bus somewhere, covering a campaign, and all of a sudden one of you people from the big papers, and all of a sudden I'll see a 1,500 word piece taken and you've somehow gotten it done, in the same time I've been with you? I say, "When did you write this thing?" I mean there's a lot of talent she doesn't have, and yet she takes credit for it.

PAGE: It's not, it's not the talent that we ask the political figures to have. We ask them to have other talents like points of view.

MATTHEWS: Well why do you let them take credit for books and speeches they didn't write?

PAGE: Well the book, she, I think she acknowledged a co-author on her book. And the idea that somebody wrote her speech for her, this is so not a surprise.

MATTHEWS: You know when some jock writes a book and says, "As told to," on the first page we say okay, because he's not supposed to be a writer or a thinker, he's supposed to be a hell of a performer. Right?

PAGE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: You can't do everything. But when somebody claims to be an intellectual leader that's gonna lead this country with big ideas and lead us in the right direction and puts their name on the cover of the book, shouldn't they have written it? Just a guess.

PAGE: Well they should have played a part.

MATTHEWS: You're so, you are such a sweetie! You are being so sweet!

MARTIN: That's prominent part, prominent part.

MATTHEWS: Is this the new press treatment of Sarah Palin?

PAGE: Yeah, it is.

MATTHEWS: Why? You want her in this race, right?

PAGE: Right, right.

MATTHEWS: You're luring her in. Look at this. Sarah, Governor, you watching? She's luring you into this race. "C'mon we're gonna be so nice to you. Eat the candy."

PAGE: If you wanted evidence that she is serious about being positioned to run in this race, look at that speech, because she doesn't need this crowd.

MARTIN: Right.

PAGE: This crowd was not...

MATTHEWS: But she softened you up! I can tell.

PAGE: She, she yeah, like her to run for president.

MATTHEWS: I can tell she softened you guys up. She treated you with respect...biggest smart move.

MARTIN: You know here's the message by her appearance, though, I think.

MATTHEWS: The Press Club, the group.

MARTIN: "Yeah I take some shots at you guys, but you get it, it's just part of the game." I think that's what-

MATTHEWS: She campaigned on her antipathy to the press-

MARTIN: I know.

MATTHEWS: -trashing Katie Couric for asking the easiest, hardball question in the world, "What do you read?"

MARTIN: So if I was a Palin supporter, If I was-

MATTHEWS: She blamed Katie Couric for asking the most obvious question.

MARTIN: Right.

MATTHEWS: She then went after Charlie Gibson, one of the nicest guys in this business and trashed him for being elitist. You know don't tell me she hasn't played this game.

MARTIN: Of course she's played the game. But what I'm saying is, then she shows up here and sort of plays nice with the same crowd. So which is it?

MATTHEWS: And tickles all you guys under your chin and you go, "Oh I just love this!"

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