Chris Matthews Lies About Michael Brown's Arguments About Obama Response to BP Oil Spill

"Everyone is entitled to his opinion, but not his own facts," Daniel Patrick Moynihan is credited as having once said. MSNBC's Chris Matthews would do well to heed the counsel of the late liberal New York senator.

The "Hardball" host yesterday smeared former Bush FEMA Director Michael Brown as having this kooky notion that President Obama approved of offshore drilling in March only because he knew the BP oil rig disaster would happen.

But as the video embedded at right shows, this is Matthews's own warped misunderstanding of Brown's argument about how the Obama administration is poised to take advantage of a disaster for political ends. [MP3 audio available here; WMV video for download here]

Matthews is certainly entitled to disagree with Brown's assessment about the Obama administration's motives behind its slow response to the BP oil spill, but not to lie to viewers about Brown's argument.

Below the page break you'll find a transcript excerpt:

May 5, 2010 Hardball

CHRIS MATTHEWS to PAT BUCHANAN:  Let me give you the line of thought I heard here last night from Michael Brown, Pat. I don't think you share it. Barack Obama came out for offshore drilling not as a compromise -- which we all thought he was doing, to get a climate bill through, which I think we all agree on -- but he did it as a fake, a head fake, because he knew, or sensed, that there would come an opportunity where he would blame offshore drilling for environmental disaster, and then he could say, "See what happens when you go with offshore drilling?"

I think that's mindless, it assumes a prophetic ability on the part of the pre-,  a clairvoyence, which is insane to believe it on the other side [the Republican side] of the argument, I think.

From the May 4, 2010 "Hardball"

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Are you suggesting he somehow knew this would happen and that's why he came out for offshore drilling? It sounds like that's what you're saying, and it sounds crazy. Crazy!

MICHAEL BROWN: Well, and the way you just put it, Chris, the way you just put it, it sounds crazy to me too.

MATTHEWS: Okay, let me just rephrase your thoughts. You said the president came out for offshore drilling so that he could discredit it, but the only way he could discredit it [was] if we had this oil spill.

BROWN:  No. No. He came out for offshore drilling in an attempt to appease those on the right who want more drilling.

MATTHEWS: Right, it's called compromise.  He came out for a compromise.

BROWN: A compro-, which was not a compromise at all. He only approved existing leases that were already in effect. You guys failed to report that what he announced was nothing. Now, he announced that so that he could, you know, get health care passed, or something else.

MATTHEWS: No, I think he did it so that he could get a climate bill passed as part of an energy bill. That's what I think he was trying to do, and you know that. We can agree on that.

BROWN: Right, right, yeah, that's right. You're right. Yeah, the climate bill.

[...]

MATTHEWS: I don't think you could have made the case you just made,  I think you made a case there, that he wants to discredit offshore drilling if he didn't anticipate this catastrophe and I don't know how you can accuse this president of such powers as knowing that this catastrophe was coming down the line.

BROWN: Chris, I don't think he anticipated this catastrophe at all. I think they took advantage of it, which is what [Rahm Emanuel's] Rule is: Take advantage of a crisis.

MATTHEWS: Okay, sir, thanks for coming on.  Michael Brown, it's great to have you on.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters