Matthews Desperately Pleads for Republicans to Come on Hardball to Denounce Limbaugh

A desperate-sounding Chris Matthews, on Tuesday's Hardball, put out a call to a Republican, any Republican, to come on his airwaves to denounce Rush Limbaugh as a liar. At the top of the show the MSNBC host issued the following challenge:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: And out on a Limbaugh! We're issuing a challenge tonight and every night to elected Republicans. Come on Hardball please sir and madam and tell us you disagree with Rush on anything! Tell us you've had it with his distortions, his misrepresentations, his outright falsehoods. We invite you to tell us he's not the leader of the Republican Party. It's our standing offer. Come on Hardball and tell us Rush isn't telling the truth. 

Later on in the program Matthews, in a segment full of cheap shots and out-of-context analysis, invited on Eric Burns from Media Matters and David Corn of Mother Jones to examine the conservative talk radio host's "ramblings," as Burns declared "most of what comes out of his mouth is a lie," and Corn implied Limbaugh was inciting violence against Obama as he decried the radio giant for being "full of untruths and lies and it's hateful...he's confirming perhaps the worst impulses that people might have, towards the Obama administration." [extended video clip here] [abbreviated audio available here] [extended audio clip here]

Throughout the show Matthews, repeatedly requested Republicans to come on his program to denounce Limbaugh as he charged: "I wonder if the Republican Party is not just in bed with Rush. They're under the covers."

The following teaser and full segment were aired on the May 11 edition of Hardball:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Up next, out on a Limbaugh, if you're a Republican and you think Rush Limbaugh is wrong, here's our challenge from Hardball. Come on the show and tell us Rush is distorting the truth. We want to hear from you. Because to us, it looks like Rush is the leader of the Republican Party. Did I say it like him? Party. You're watching Hardball! Only on MSNBC.

...

(Begin clip of Rush Limbaugh)

RUSH LIMBAUGH: You see, folks, information is king. And Obama can't be king if we have information. That's what bugs him. What bugs him is that there is dissent.

(End clip)

CHRIS MATTHEWS: He's amazing, we're back, that's of course Rush Limbaugh today, actually yesterday calling President Obama a king. Pretty soft stuff compared to his usual barbs like "regime" and "socialist" and "Nazi-like." On Friday's Hardball, former New York Governor George Pataki delivered a rare message for a Republican, let's listen. 

(Begin clip)

MATTHEWS: You've said that Rush Limbaugh is wrong. That Barack Obama is not a Nazi, right? He's not a Nazi?

GEORGE PATAKI: He is not a Nazi. Yes.

MATTHEWS: And this administration was duly elected, it's not a regime.

PATAKI: Correct.

MATTHEWS: Okay so you disagree with him. And no, it's amazing, because you're not a dittohead. Do you know hard it is to find a Republican who is not a dittohead? I can't find a Republican member of Congress, and by the way if there are any out there, please call Hardball on MSNBC and let us know that you're a Republican elected official now in office and are willing to take on the large man on radio.

(End clip)

MATTHEWS: Well no calls the yet. And going forward, Hardball invites any and all current, former and aspiring elected Republicans -- by the way you staffers on Capitol Hill take note -- who want to denounce El Rushbo's radical rhetoric. Just go ahead you got an open invitation to Hardball. Come on the show and say you disagree with Rush Limbaugh on anything.

Mother Jones' Washington bureau chief David Corn is here to talk about Rush's rule. I think it is a Rush Limbaugh regime, in fact. He's also a columnist for Politics Daily. And Eric Burns is president of Media Matters which tracks all things, including Rush's ramblings or rumblings, on his Web site. You know Eric sometimes I listen to the fellow and I'm thinking about offshore oil disasters and I think he might be one of them. I mean he is like you hear "wuh, wuh, wuh" like it's an underwater walrus talking, "wuh wuh." And he's amazing! He's, let me ask you quickly, you haven't been on the show-

ERIC BURNS, MEDIA MATTERS: Sure.

MATTHEWS: -what is his measure of power over the Republican Party? I have a sense, we had a guy named Gingery a congressman from Georgia. You know about this.

BURNS: Yeah.

MATTHEWS: We had Michael Steele, for a couple of seconds they're off base. They're like a batter tagging up after getting to first, rushing back to first base for fear of being tagged off-base by Rush - because he's always watching. If you disagree with him on a thing, he nails you. I wonder if the Republican Party is not just in bed with Rush. They're under the covers. Your thoughts?

BURNS: They're, they're, they're, they're absolutely under his thumb. You know, I would consider Rush Limbaugh to be essentially the godfather of the Republican Party, right up there with, with Fox News. And they really are running the show. The conservative media apparatus stepped into the vacuum after two consecutive electoral defeats for the GOP and they are the tail that's wagging the dog. There's no question about it Chris.

MATTHEWS: Okay let me go to David, let, let me go to my buddy on this one, David Corn. If you had to measure the power of Rushbo or [Bill] O'Reilly or Sean [Hannity] or Glenn [Beck], compared to the power of John Boehner, how would you measure the two?

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Well I guess on a scale of one to ten, it's an 11.

MATTHEWS: And you give Boehner a one?

CORN: Yeah, perhaps. Chris, if you're going to have a party with Republicans who are willing to criticize Rush Limbaugh, you're going to end up with all the beer yourself. It's going to be a very empty room. You know, the whole image of them being under the covers with Rush may be too dicey for, for, for primetime TV here. But time and time again, they have shown - not just with Rush, but they're not willing to take on their own base. Remember the rally in November when you had tea partiers shouting "Nazis, Nazis" in reference to Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama. And John Boehner and Eric Cantor and the others were there-

MATTHEWS: Yeah.

CORN: -on the podium and just sort of waving along.

MATTHEWS: Well speaking of the podium, what I'm watching right now would be hard to hide under the covers. This guy is a big guy! Here's George Pataki, here's what he was reacting against. Here's Limbaugh, just in the last two weeks fellas. I want Eric to grade these points he's made.

BURNS: Okay.

MATTHEWS: Let's listen.

(Begin montage of Limbaugh)

LIMBAUGH: Of course, who is dividing America? It's Obama...He looks at people of color as the genuine owners of the world's wealth who've been shut out of it....Guess what - Faisal Shahzad is a registered Democrat. I wonder if his SVU had an Obama sticker on it?...This is an administration that is not of this country...Obama knows who his real enemies are. And there are many more of them in Arizona than there are apparently in Iran...My friends, this regime in its day-to-day actions, is far more Nazi-like than any identification law.

(End montage)

MATTHEWS: Eric, when people listen to this stuff, when you hear this commentary coming out of him. I mean this, this stuff that the blacks believe they own everything rightfully and Obama is gonna give it back to them and this is an amazing statement-

BURNS: It is.

MATTHEWS: That Shahzad is a registered Democrat. It just pours out of this guy. And I'm laughing my butt off here because it sounds so hilarious. Do people buy it?

BURNS: Yes. Yeah. Rush, look, Rush Limbaugh has a very, very big and devoted audience and they believe everything that he says. That's the problem Chris, because most of what, of what comes out of his mouth is a lie. And these absurd accusations. Of course Shahzad was not a registered Democrat. You know Rush also suggested that the, the Fort Hood shooter was just like Obama and that, that shooting was Obama's fault. Just yesterday Rush Limbaugh suggested that the financial collapse in Greece was also Obama's fault. He attacked [Elena] Kagan and Obama 12 times yesterday on his radio show.

MATTHEWS: Okay.

BURNS: And he has a legion of folks that think what Rush says is the Bible.

MATTHEWS: Well hold on, Eric, here he is right now, doing what you said. Talking about Kagan yesterday. Let's listen.

(Begin clip)

LIMBAUGH: I know I'm despised by the regime. And in my way of thinking I'm disadvantaged, because I'm a target of the regime. But I know full well that neither Thurgood Marshall nor Elena Kagan has me in mind when they talk about despised and disadvantaged. They're looking at me and people like me as the, the oppressors. That's right. The architects of the despised.

(End clip)

MATTHEWS: Absolute hilarity! I am convinced, Corn! I'm absolutely convinced he's a genius at one thing - constituency politics. He has a constituency. Traveling salesman. Mostly men, mostly white men, driving around trying to make a buck, working their butts off. Feeling oppressed. They're feeling like nobody appreciates them. The boss keeps raising the, the, the sales quota, the wife at home, the spouse doesn't know how hard they work. The kids don't even know what he does. And there's one guy rooting for them against the Feminazis, against affirmative action, against minorities. And he's the oppressed minority. That white guy in that car. And this guy, Rush Limbaugh plays to this guy. He panders to 'em, he teases 'em with the ideal notion that he's the victim. It's brilliant! It's brilliant!

CORN: Well you're right. I mean, I mean you know in the media it's, yeah well it's a matter of supply and demand. I mean he makes tens or hundreds of millions of dollars a year on the basis of peddling this stuff to people who want to listen. And I think you know we can, you know it's wrong, Eric is right, it's full of untruths and lies and it's hateful. But it does contribute to an overall atmosphere, just because of the reach he has. And when you go around saying that Obama is Nazi-like, that people about, in his, in his government are part of a regime, and they're not of this country - you know, what does that give people a license to think, but more importantly, to do?

MATTHEWS: I know.

CORN: You know if, if they really are the, an internal enemy, what do you do with internal enemies? You try to eradicate them. And so you know, he is, you know sending messages, and he's confirming perhaps the worst impulses that people might have, towards the Obama administration. It's one thing to disagree with policy and to argue about things, even to get your facts wrong, when you do so. You know under the Constitution, you're allowed to do that. But to sort of generate this atmosphere when people look at Obama as sort of a secret, hidden, internal enemy, a traitor who wants to undo this country. Well you know that's, that's really throwing oil onto the fire.

MATTHEWS: Okay David, thank you. Well said. Thank you David Corn and thank you Eric Burns, we'll have you back. Eric Burns keep an eye on everything.

And remember, any Republican who is willing to denounce El Rushbo's rhetoric, just come on the air we'd love to watch you. We'll give you a full platform. Of course you gotta be careful about what he does to you. Please call us here at Hardball and we'll put you on. Up next, remember that's the deal! You gotta challenge Rushbo. No games here. If you don't challenge Rushbo and come on this show we're gonna nail you.

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