"F*** you!" is how MSNBC's Chris Matthews reportedly objected to the notion that he used the services of a ghostwriter for his new book, "Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero."
In a November 2 blog post, Forbes.com's Jeff Bercovici detailed the Hardball host's testy reaction to the suggestion that just as Matthews's boyhood hero heavily relied on Ted Sorensen, Matthews had a professional scribe assist him on his latest project (emphasis mine):
Matthews’ genial, boyish face darkens. “Forget you,” he says.
(Only he doesn’t say “forget you.” Both Matthews and my editor asked me not to print what he actually said, so I rely here on my readers’ familiarity with both the original and radio versions of a certain Cee-Lo Green song.)
“Forget you,” he repeats. “Where’d you get that? Is that what you think? You think I don’t write my books?”
I try to explain that I hadn’t meant the question to be insulting. After all, plenty of people in Matthews’ orbit of politicians and media talking heads use ghostwriters, or at least lean on interns to do most of their research.
Not Matthews. “I would never let anybody write something for me,” he says. “Why do you think I’m like that? It’s amazing to me that you think I’m some lightweight, glib bullshit artist that has somebody do his work for him. The writing is the hard part, the composition.”
What made my question so hurtful, he says, is the enormous amount of labor he’d put in. Here’s what he says is the sum total of help he received with his research: An intern made a trip to retrieve some materials he’d requested, and his son Michael helped him organize his notes into piles in accordance with his outline. Everything else was his own legwork, and Matthews says it was indispensable.
In the same interview, Matthews insisted he's happy at MSNBC, which he insists is "more evenly balanced" post-Olbermann -- even though the network's entire prime time lineup is left-of-center -- and that he's "got a conservative gut, but if you go through the list of all the issues, I’m a liberal. It doesn’t make any sense."