Witnesses: MSNBC Producer Assaulted Chris Matthews Heckler for ‘Tingle’ Taunt

As the presidential campaign season has moved along, veteran Democratic strategist-turned MSNBC host Chris Matthews has become increasingly vocal in expressing his hatred for Republicans and adoration for President Barack Obama. That tension must be rubbing off on his staff members since one of them, a producer, is now accused of assaulting two men at the Republican National Convention last night over taunts they made to Matthews.

The alleged incident began after two men, presumably supporters of GOP nominee Mitt Romney, began heckling the deranged MSNBC anchor about his now famous remark (first exposed by NewsBusters) that listening to an Obama speech gave him a "thrill going up my leg."

The Hollywood Reporter has more:

Matthews was hosting a show at a makeshift outdoor stage near the Tampa Bay Times Forum after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney accepted his party’s nomination. During a break, two men shouted, "Hey Chris, how's that tingle up your leg." The comment was a reference to Matthews’ 2008 comment that a Barack Obama speech sent a "thrill up his leg."

According to witnesses, a shoving match ensued.

"Then this short dude who works for MSNBC pushed them," said Toby David, who came to the defense of the two hecklers. "One of them was smiling and didn't know it was coming, and the guy just shoved him," added Kim Churchman, another witness. [...]

The MSNBC employee identified himself to The Hollywood Reporter as a producer but did not supply his name and referred THR to press relations. An MSNBC spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

THR interviewed Churchman on video, watch to see her account of the attack.

Update 13:01. Matthews's embarrassingly sycophantic remark has dogged him for years since he first made it. According to the anchor, he is continually teased about it by critics who spot him on the street.

Earlier this year, Matthews lashed out at C-SPAN host Steve Scully who had asked him an innocuous question about it during a panel discussion.

“I hope you feel satisfied that you raised the most obvious question that is raised by every horse’s ass right-winger I ever bump into,” Matthews sniped.

The anchor tried to excuse his outburst of Obama adulation by framing it in patriotic terms:

“I’m an un-traditional person, but I have traditional values and I love the country and I said so. Perhaps I shouldn’t have said so because I’ve given a lot of jackasses a chance to talk about it.”

Update 13:08. Matthews has also been derided by on-air guests for his "thrill" comment. The anchor was very upset when Republican congressman Joe Walsh brought up what the Illinois representative incorrectly called a "tingle." Responding to the jibe, Matthews made sure to point out that he had said "thrill" instead. He again defended the comment.

Update 13:19. Interestingly enough, his 2008 comment about Obama's effect on his emotions was not the first time that Matthews has expressed himself in such vivid language. In 2004, after Obama delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, a hot and bothered Matthews said afterward that listening to the speech gave him a "chill in my legs."

Update 20:54. In a related story, Matthews himself got into a verbal confrontation with some Republicans just a few hours following this incident. Unlike this one, physical violence is not reported to have been initiated.

Update 21:06. As requested by a reader, here is the video of Matthews being called out on his famous expression of love by former GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachman after he derisively mocked her as "hypnotized" and "in a trance" during a 2010 interview.

Bachman shot back and referenced Matthews's most famous moment stating, "The American people are the ones [...] coming out of our trance [...] I think people are thrilled tonight. I imagine that thrill is probably maybe quite not so tingly on your leg any more."

After the interview ended, Matthews was razzed by fellow co-host Rachel Maddow who began a quip saying "between the trance and the tingle" before Matthews hastily interrupted her to assert that he had never used the word tingle.

"No, that's not a tingle. That's their [conservatives'] word. I never used that word," he interjected.

Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield, creator of NewsBusters and president of Dialog New Media, an internet marketing and design firm, left NewsBusters at the end of 2013