Matthews Links Palin&Bachmann to Giffords Shooting, Portrays U.S. as Gun Crazed Nation

Chris Matthews, on Monday's Hardball, used the attempt on Gabrielle Giffords' life, to not only portray America as some sort of gun crazed country, but also to blame the likes of Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann for political violence as he blurted: "Sarah Palin using gun play language. What is she talking about crosshairs and reloading...and Bachmann out there with her kind of talk. I mean it seems like the way people talk now has, has gotten more ballistic...Why are guns talked about so much, especially on the right? Why?"

First up, Matthews depicted the United States as a uniquely gun crazed nation, especially in regards to political violence, as he told asked Arizona Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva "In Mexico I don't see their leaders getting knocked off every couple of years....This country has a particular, historic problem with assassination of public officials." Apparently Matthews missed the news that just this last summer, in Mexico, a candidate for governor, Rodolfo Torre, was killed.

Then later on in the show, Matthews, along with the Huffington Post's Howard Fineman, went after a couple of his favorite targets, Palin and Bachmann, as seen in this exchange:

(video after the jump)

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Here's part of Palin's email to Glenn Beck which he read on his radio show. Quote, "I hate violence, I hate war. Our children will not have peace if politicos just capitalize on this to succeed in portraying anyone as inciting terror and violence." Well that sounds horribly defensive, Howard, and too broad in its defense to mean anything.

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST: Yeah. I, I - having seen her play with the, with the gun analogy, I'm not going to cut her that much slack here.

MATTHEWS: Yeah.

FINEMAN: I saw her last spring in New Orleans, and she did the - in front of a Republican audience of grassroots hardcore people saying, "We're not gonna retreat, we're gonna reload."

MATTHEWS: What's that mean?

FINEMAN: Okay, now, I know she said, "Hey, that doesn't mean anything." To those people, that was dog whistle politics to those people.

MATTHEWS: Yeah, yeah.

FINEMAN: And it involves Second Amendment rights, it involves the whole mythology and reality of guns. She knew exactly what she was playing with here. That doesn't mean she's in any way responsible for this. To underscore that, okay? But that's the thing that she's playing around with here, and she darn well knows what she's doing.

The following teasers and exchanges were aired on the January 10 Hardball:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well Congressman [Raul] Grijalva this is the idiot conversation we're having right now, in this country. I don't know where in Europe or Africa, or Asia they go to political events carrying guns. I don't - in Mexico I don't see their leaders getting knocked off every couple of years. I don't see it in Canada. This country has a particular, historic problem with assassination of public officials. And I just wonder how we can countenance this in public life.

REP. RAUL GRIJALVA, AZ-D: Well you know in, in the state of Arizona, right now there, legislation is gonna be pending to allow students at universities and faculty to carry concealed weapons. It's that crazy. And so when you feed the environment of a tolerance and impunity for, for guns and particularly in a public event dealing with people coming to deal with issues that are important to them, it's unbelievable. And, and, and creates an atmosphere not only of fear. Right after the aftermath of this tragedy somebody posted, someone who is famous for their anti-immigrant and gun issues, posted a comment said, "It's too bad that it wasn't Grijalva." So you feed that ugliness.

...

MATTHEWS: Sarah Palin using gun play language. What is she talking about crosshairs and reloading? And Sharron Angle talking about Second Amendment remedies and, and Bachmann out there with her kind of talk. I mean it seems like the way people talk now has, has gotten more ballistic. It's gotten to do with guns, when it has nothing to do with Second Amendment issues. I understand the right to bear arms. It's in our Constitution. It's protected in our Bill of Rights. I understand that, but people bring it up, totally irregardless of the topic, they bring up guns. Why are guns talked about so much, especially on the right? Why?

...

MATTHEWS: Up next the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Giffords. Will that temper the red hot vitriol we're getting from both sides?...Well let's talk about Sarah Palin. She is definitely a focus tonight. This is Hardball, only on MSNBC.

...

 


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to Hardball, we're back with Howard Fineman of the Huffington Post and Melinda Henneberger of PolitcsDaily or DailyPolitics rather. I think it's PoliticsDaily. This, this map appeared, by the way, on Palin's, Sarah Palin's Facebook page to mark the Democrats her political action committee, SarahPac, that's nice name, wanted to defeat. Well in March of last year Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot this week, reacted to Palin's map. Let's listen.

REP. GABRIELLE GIFFORDS: We're on Sarah Palin's targeted list, but the thing is the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs a gun site over our district. When people do that, they've got to realize there's consequences to that action.

MATTHEWS: Well, there are consequences. Here's part of Palin's email to Glenn Beck which he read on his radio show. Quote, "I hate violence, I hate war. Our children will not have peace if politicos just capitalize on this to succeed in portraying anyone as inciting terror and violence." Well that sounds horribly defensive, Howard, and too broad in its defense to mean anything.

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST: Yeah. I, I - having seen her play with the, with the gun analogy, I'm not going to cut her that much slack here.

MATTHEWS: Yeah.

FINEMAN: I saw her last spring in New Orleans, and she did the - in front of a Republican audience of grassroots hardcore people saying, "We're not gonna retreat, we're gonna reload."

MATTHEWS: What's that mean?

FINEMAN: Okay, now, I know she said, "Hey, that doesn't mean anything." To those people, that was dog whistle politics to those people.

MATTHEWS: Yeah, yeah.

FINEMAN: And it involves Second Amendment rights, it involves the whole mythology and reality of guns. She knew exactly what she was playing with here. That doesn't mean she's in any way responsible for this. To underscore that, okay? But that's the thing that she's playing around with here, and she darn well knows what she's doing.

MATTHEWS: You know, her, her wanna-be like, Michele Bachmann, who imitates her as much as she can, talked about she wants the people of Minnesota to be armed and dangerous. She's also talking constantly about this Second Amendment thing and guns. It's an obsession with these people. And it's my main focus tonight, bringing guns - not the Second Amendment right to bear arms, that's in our Constitution - but to keep talking about how you're gonna use this right in politics.

MELINDA HENNEBERGER, POLITICSDAILY.COM: Well, back to you, what you said about when she said, "Don't retreat, reload." Specifically, she wasn't speaking about gun rights in that moment.

MATTHEWS: Right.

HENNEBERGER: You know she was, she was actually defending Laura Schlesinger's right to make unfortunate racial remarks in that instance. But-

FINEMAN: No, I'm sorry. No.

—Geoffrey Dickens is the Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here

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