In a week when Democratic senators tried to intimidate executives at Clear Channel Communications based on a false interpretation of Rush Limbaugh’s “phony soldiers” comment, MSNBC host Chris Matthews on Thursday decried what he said were complaints from the Bush White House to MSNBC executives about the content of his show. “They will not silence me!” Matthews declared at a celebration of the 10th anniversary of his "Hardball" show, the (Washington, D.C.) Examiner reported.
Talking about the Democrats’ threats to silence Limbaugh on Tuesday, Matthews put all of the onus on Limbaugh’s speech, not liberals’ attacks on the First Amendement. “Do you think that Rush Limbaugh was right to call people who oppose the war who have served ‘phony soldiers?’” Matthews demanded of a panelist, distorting the facts. “So we’re agreed, so we all disagree with Rush Limbaugh,” he later claimed.
Apparently, Matthews is far less concerned about government interference against a conservative media personality than a liberal like himself.
Here’s more of how the D.C. Examiner reported on Matthews’ remarks at a network party last night, which also included a rant against the Bush administration’s “criminality” and an accusation that if Vice President Cheney had been in charge during the Cuban missile crisis, “We’d all be under a parking lot.”
In front of an audience that included such notables as Alan Greenspan, Rep. Patrick Kennedy and Sen. Ted Kennedy, Matthews began his remarks by declaring that he wanted to "make some news" and he certainly didn't disappoint. After praising the drafters of the First Amendment for allowing him to make a living, he outlined what he said was the fundamental difference between the Bush and Clinton administrations.
The Clinton camp, he said, never put pressure on his bosses to silence him.
“Not so this crowd,” he added, explaining that Bush White House officials -- especially those from Vice President Cheney's office -- called MSNBC brass to complain about the content of his show and attempted to influence its editorial content. "They will not silence me!" Matthews declared.
"They've finally been caught in their criminality," Matthews continued, although he did not specify the exact criminal behavior to which he referred. He then drew an obvious Bush-Nixon parallel by saying, “Spiro Agnew was not an American hero."
Matthews left the throng of Washington A-listers with a parting shot at Cheney: “God help us if we had Cheney during the Cuban missile crisis. We’d all be under a parking lot.”
Update/Related Item (Ken Shepherd | 10:15): Matthews's appearance on Comedy Central's "Daily Show" is causing some buzz on the Web. Host Jon Stewart trashed the "Hardball" host's new book, "Life's a Campaign," saying essentially that it's a poor re-write of Machiavelli's "The Prince." It's priceless. Watch it here. See also Greg Mitchell's editorial at E&P and P.J. Gladnick's NewsBusters post.