Chris Matthews: Hillary Clinton Should Be Above GOP 'Spit-balling'

Now playing on MSNBC: “Hillary vs. the Haters!”

Opening his Tuesday evening episode of Hardball, host Chris Matthews kicked off by essentially whining about new comments from Karl Rove about potential 2016 candidate, Hillary Clinton. In the process he decried those ol' meanies in the GOP, seemingly forgetful that he himself has spewed all kinds of bile against conservative and Republicans from his perch at MSNBC.

Dubbing the GOP strategist, “Karl the Snarl,” Matthews played a clip of Rove from America’s Newsroom on Fox News from earlier in the day. Rove’s comments described Hillary Clinton’s fondly hearkening back to the day’s of her husband’s presidency as “yesterday.” He noted that the nostalgia won’t help her seem new, rather it appears “old and stale.

Matthews insisted this sort of chatter is simply “not nice!” It’s not nice especially when it’s the darling of the media, Hillary Clinton. A woman who has “served her country so long and so well.”

Regardless of your views of his politics, the same can be said for Arizona Senator John McCain, a man whom Matthews smeared as an “angry” Vietnam veteran prone to “flashbacks.” That's hardly a respectful comment directed towards a man who suffered torture and abuse at the hands of his Communist captors as a POW in Vietnam.

But this is Hillary Clinton we’re talking about. She should be “above the spit-balling” right? Well, if you work for MSNBC, then yes:

I thought Hillary after being First Lady, putting up with all she put up with, heroically running for Senate in New York, winning, having the guts to do that, being a very good Secretary of State, let's put it that way, that she would be above the spit-balling.

To be expected, guest Michelle Bernard agreed completely, exclaiming, “People will take liberties with women they would never, ever dare take with a man.” Yes, to Matthews and his guests, this is just another day in the War on Women. Bernard also spoke to attacks on Clinton back when she ran in 2008:

We have seen an evolution. Not enough, but if you go back and look at what she went through in 2008 - it was talks about her cleavage, her hair, that she looked 92 years old, there were comments by male commentators sayting, every time I hear her voice I hear my wife telling me to take out the garbage.

For MSNBC, the road to 2016 is all about one thing: shielding Hillary Clinton from scrutiny and attempting to marginalize those who dare question her.

The relevant portion of the segment is transcribed below:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Karl the Snarl. Let's play "Hardball." Good evening. I'm Chris Matthews in Washington. Let me start tonight with this direct new attack on Hillary Clinton. This guy just went on TV yesterday and called her old and stale, that she looks like yesterday. Who would do such a thing? Let me give you a clue. He said it on Fox. His name is Karl Rove. And he does this for a living. First he attacked the former First Lady, US Senator from New York and recent Secretary of State for having health issues, suffering from even now enduring, quote, brain injuries. As of yesterday he's keelhauling her for being too old, too stale, too yesterday. It's the old part that will cause a lot of trouble out there, trouble maybe for Secretary Clinton maybe but also for Karl Rove. It's not nice to treat someone like this, not a woman, someone who's served the country so long and so well. It's not nice to treat anyone this way. Blasting someone for the date of their birth isn't exactly playing fair even in these nasty days. Or is it? Is Karl Rove in a clear attempt to win back his bona fides as an architect of Republican victories on to something quite nasty about today's politics? Could he be right in believing that the guy who yells the emperor or in this case, the empress has no clothes will become a force in GOP 2016 politics and beyond? We'll find out. Howard Fineman is editorial director of "The Huffington Post" and MSNBC political analyst. And Michelle Bernard is younger and growing stronger every day and president of the Bernard Center for Women, Politics, and Public Policy. Dare I mention age? Here's what Karl Rove said on Fox News yesterday. Let's watch him earn his living.

KARL ROVE: The second problem with inevitability is that it's easy to fall into nostalgia and Hillary Clinton may be in danger of doing this. Talking about how good things were when Bill was in office, when Bill was in office the economy was better, which to some degree helps her also hurts her because it makes her look like yesterday. It's all about what happened in the '90s. We are 20 years past the point at which Bill Clinton was elected president. In American politics there's a sense that you want to be new, that you don't want to be too familiar, you want to be something fresh, you don't want to be something that's old and stale.

MATTHEWS: Old and stale. This has been a sustained long-term attack by Rove. Earlier this month "The New York Post" reported that at a conference Rove talked about Hillary Clinton as possibly suffering a, quote, traumatic brain injury. Those remarks caused a huge stir, but Rove never backed away. Let’s watch.

[...]

MATTHEWS: Michelle, you watched this, and Howard too. Did you get the sense people weren't going to do this? I thought Hillary after being First Lady, putting up with all she put up with, heroically running for Senate in New York, winning, having the guts to do that, being a very good Secretary of State, let's put it that way, that she would be above the spit-balling.

MICHELLE BERNARD: You would think she'd be above the spit-balling. We have seen an evolution. Not enough, but if you go back and look at what she went through in 2008 - it was talks about her cleavage, her hair, that she looked 92 years old, there were comments by male commentators saying every time I hear her voice I hear my wife telling me to take out the garbage. We've evolved in that sense since 2008. No one is above the spit-balling...

[...]

BERNARD: People will take liberties with women they would never, ever dare take with a man.

[...]

FINEMAN: And don't forget, Karl was over there feeding the beast at FOX.

Jackie Seal
Jackie Seal is a 2014 summer intern with the MRC's News Analysis Division.