Liberal Radio Host Calls Bill Clinton a Liar and an Embarrassment

Unless you've been out of the country without access to a television or a newspaper the past couple of weeks, you are infinitely aware that the media have surprisingly been coming down strongly on some of former President Bill Clinton's recent antics on the campaign trail.

A shocking line in the sand was crossed on Wednesday's "Hardball" when liberal talk radio host Ed Schultz actually called Bill Clinton a liar, and Chris Matthews seemed to agree.

Matthews began Wednesday's program:

Big fish -- Bill Clinton is campaigning for his wife today in South Carolina, playing the role of big fish, beating up her opponent, Barack Obama, at every stop. Is Bill Clinton helping Hillary or hurting her? Is he being effective or is he dividing the Democrats? Or is he doing both, helping Hillary and dividing the Democrats?... Let me go to Ed Schultz. Is Bill Clinton a plus or a minus for the Democrats? Let`s start with is he a plus or a minus for Hillary?

Schultz was armed for bear (video available here):

Well, I think he`s a minus for Hillary because he`s lying on the campaign trail, Chris. I`m going to lay it right on the Clintons` doorstep right now. Bill Clinton is lying about Barack Obama`s record when it comes to the war and when it comes to this comment about Republicans and Reagan.

And you know what Democrats are being reminded of when Clinton gets out on the stump? He lied 10 years ago about Monica Lewinsky, and he`s lying about a very viable candidate and somebody who could really bring change in this country. He is embarrassing for Democrats.

And another thing is I think that African-Americans are saying, You know what? He`s picking on a brother. That`s why Hillary is going down as far as the rating approval with African-Americans in South Carolina. Bill, get off the campaign trail if you want Hillary to get the nomination.

Shocking. But there was more:

Here`s the bottom line. He`s hurting Democrats. Ted Kennedy`s had a heated conversation with him. I had Pat Leahy on the program yesterday, on the radio show, saying Bill Clinton`s got to back off. Today, I had Claire McCaskill on, saying that, I think that Bill Clinton is shading the truth. We`re afraid to say it, he`s lying about Barack Obama`s record, and it is turning off a lot of African-Americans, it`s turning off a lot of core Democrats. And guess what? Bill Clinton`s approval rating, whether it be 60, 70 or 80 percent, it doesn`t mean squat when it comes to getting the nomination. The fact is, he`s being viewed as an attack dog.

Astounding. Yet, Maybe more shocking was how Matthews not only didn't try to defend the former President, but gave support to what Schultz was saying:

Let me look at the pattern of what -- - both you look at the pattern of what President Clinton has said. He said "roll of the dice," he said all kinds of things. He`s saying "fairy tale." He`s used reference -- well, his surrogates and her surrogates, Hillary Clinton`s surrogates, have used words like cocaine, cocaine, references to the fact of his selling cocaine or using it or whatever -- using it -- I think I should be clear there -- all this sort of clever innuendo, talking about dealing with slumlords in the inner city.

Don`t you sense a coloration, Mark [Green, Air America], on the kind of snide remarks coming out of the whole Clinton campaign that sort of puts Barack back into the bad neighborhoods, sort of a street guy himself? Don`t you sense the way they`re coloring him into a box? I`m just asking. If you don`t think so, let`s argue about it.

After Green did defend the President, Matthews pressed him:

Why did Mark -- why did Mark Penn raise it on my show twice, cocaine, cocaine? Why did Bob Johnson do it again? Why do they keep doing it?

Green again defended Clinton, and Matthews fired back:

Penn is her message person. He`s not a surrogate. He`s the guy who writes the messages like inner city and slumlord. He`s the confector of this theme...He's not some bystander.

Amazing. What follows is a partial transcript of this opening segment.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Welcome to HARDBALL. Big fish -- Bill Clinton is campaigning for his wife today in South Carolina, playing the role of big fish, beating up her opponent, Barack Obama, at every stop. Is Bill Clinton helping Hillary or hurting her? Is he being effective or is he dividing the Democrats? Or is he doing both, helping Hillary and dividing the Democrats? More on Bill Clinton`s role in the campaign in a moment...But we begin with the big fish in the political pond, Bill Clinton. Mark Green`s president of Air America Radio and author of "Losing Our Democracy," and he is officially neutral in this race for the Democratic nomination. Also with us is radio talk show host Ed Schultz.

Well? Let me go to Ed Schultz. Is Bill Clinton a plus or a minus for the Democrats? Let`s start with is he a plus or a minus for Hillary?

ED SCHULTZ, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, I think he`s a minus for Hillary because he`s lying on the campaign trail, Chris. I`m going to lay it right on the Clintons` doorstep right now. Bill Clinton is lying about Barack Obama`s record when it comes to the war and when it comes to this comment about Republicans and Reagan.

And you know what Democrats are being reminded of when Clinton gets out on the stump? He lied 10 years ago about Monica Lewinsky, and he`s lying about a very viable candidate and somebody who could really bring change in this country. He is embarrassing for Democrats.

And another thing is I think that African-Americans are saying, You know what? He`s picking on a brother. That`s why Hillary is going down as far as the rating approval with African-Americans in South Carolina. Bill, get off the campaign trail if you want Hillary to get the nomination.

MATTHEWS: Mark Green?

MARK GREEN, AIR AMERICA RADIO: When the most popular Democrat in America, a peace and prosperity two-term president, the first since FDR, is your chief surrogate and spokesman, it`s a plus. I mean, in court, a judge would say let`s stipulate that Bill Clinton is a plus. He has an 80 percent favorable rating among Democrats, so I mean, I think Ed is numerically and politically wrong about that. What is a fair debate...

SCHULTZ: Well, how old is that poll?

GREEN: The last week.

SCHULTZ: How old is that poll?

GREEN: Last week, Ed.

SCHULTZ: And because the Clintons...

GREEN: That`s what -- Ed, that`s what you get...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ: ... some success in the `90s does not mean he could have license...

GREEN: Ed...

SCHULTZ: ... to do what he`s doing right now. doing.

GREEN: When you interrupt and the answer is not what you wanted...

MATTHEWS: OK...

GREEN: ... that`s your problem, not mine. Last week, he had an 80 percent rating. Now, I was about to say we can have a fair conversation about each of the things he`s said about Obama and his wife. Are they true? Are they false? Are they helpful or hurtful? But overall, Bill Clinton is as helpful to Hillary Clinton as 9/11 was to Rudy Giuliani, but watch -- he overplayed 9/11. It hurt him. Could Bill Clinton overplay his popularity and his hand? It`s possible.

MATTHEWS: Is Bill Clinton correct when he says that Rudy Giuliani is a Ronald Reagan fan? I mean, that Barack Obama is a Ronald Reagan fan. Is he right? Is that the truth?

GREEN: No. Barack Obama is not a Ronald Reagan fan. However, according to Paul Krugman in "The New York Times," Obama made a statement that in context said, Gee, Reagan had all these ideas, and he helped entrepreneurship and the economy, he challenged the conventional wisdom. In context in that Reno, Nevada, paper he wasn`t endorsing any particular idea, but there Bill Clinton has a legitimate point. And Obama, it`s fine for him to come back. That`s not a lie. That`s what we call hardball, Chris, not beanbag.

MATTHEWS: OK, well, here`s Hillary Clinton, a candidate for president, Senator Clinton, talking about her husband`s role in her campaign. Let`s listen to Hillary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am grateful for the support that my husband has given me. Each of us who remains in this race have very passionate and vigorous spouses who have been out there campaigning for us. And I think that, you know, obviously, as a former president, Bill understands the difficulties of the job and how incredibly pressured it is and will be even moreso, inheriting what we will from the Bush administration. So I think that he feels, you know, very, very strongly about what we need in the next president, and that`s what he`s out talking about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Ed Schultz, what do you think of Hillary and what she just said, the senator?

SCHULTZ: No, he`s not out talking about Hillary. He`s out trashing Barack Obama and misrepresenting his position. Now, I think I just heard Mark Green say, Well, it`s OK if Bill Clinton lies just a little bit on the campaign trail.

Here`s the bottom line. He`s hurting Democrats. Ted Kennedy`s had a heated conversation with him. I had Pat Leahy on the program yesterday, on the radio show, saying Bill Clinton`s got to back off. Today, I had Claire McCaskill on, saying that, I think that Bill Clinton is shading the truth. We`re afraid to say it, he`s lying about Barack Obama`s record, and it is turning off a lot of African-Americans, it`s turning off a lot of core Democrats. And guess what? Bill Clinton`s approval rating, whether it be 60, 70 or 80 percent, it doesn`t mean squat when it comes to getting the nomination. The fact is, he`s being viewed as an attack dog.

MATTHEWS: Mark, I want you to respond to what the president -- here`s former president Bill Clinton talking about Barack Obama yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I thought he was running against me in Nevada for a while when he said the Republicans had the -- most of the new ideas and challenged the conventional wisdom in the `90s. I thought we challenged the conventional wisdom in the `90s. We were challenging the conventional wisdom. So I didn`t agree with that, but I don`t really think he`s running against me. I just think that he was doing what he thought he should do, and I have no quarrel with it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What do you make of that, Mark?

GREEN: Well, first of all...

MATTHEWS: He is going after Obama. Let`s not kid ourselves. He`s not defending Hillary, he`s going after Obama. He`s the Terminator here.

GREEN: When Ed said that I said it was OK to lie a little...

SCHULTZ: You know, Mark, this isn`t about me!

GREEN: Ed -- Ed...

SCHULTZ: This isn`t about me!

(CROSSTALK)

GREEN: Ed, you`re not on your radio show.

MATTHEWS: Ed, Ed, Ed...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: We have to let Mark -- Mark gets to talk, then you get to talk.

GREEN: I know how radio talk show hosts do it, as do you. When he said I said it was OK to lie a little -- anyone out there hear me say that? We just heard Bill Clinton say something that was literally true, which is that Barack Obama had implied that Reagan went after the conventional wisdom, not him, and that he was sort of chiding Bill Clinton because Reagan was more transformational. That, of course, is not offensive.

Look, in my view, Bill Clinton`s criticism of Obama on Iraq is not persuasive. I think Obama has the better argument. Bill Clinton on "Charlie Rose," when he said, This person`s very inexperienced, we can roll the dice -- a legitimate, if colorful, way to go after Barack Obama`s experience. Obama and his surrogates say that Hillary Clinton is yesterday`s news and over the hill.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Here he is on "Charlie Rose," Mark. Let`s watch it.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me look at the pattern of what -- - both you look at the pattern of what President Clinton has said. He said "roll of the dice," he said all kinds of things. He`s saying "fairy tale." He`s used reference -- well, his surrogates and her surrogates, Hillary Clinton`s surrogates, have used words like cocaine, cocaine, references to the fact of his selling cocaine or using it or whatever -- using it -- I think I should be clear there -- all this sort of clever innuendo, talking about dealing with slumlords in the inner city.

Don`t you sense a coloration, Mark, on the kind of snide remarks coming out of the whole Clinton campaign that sort of puts Barack back into the bad neighborhoods, sort of a street guy himself? Don`t you sense the way they`re coloring him into a box? I`m just asking. If you don`t think so, let`s argue about it.

GREEN: Chris, I`ve known you a long time. I absolutely don`t think your implication that there`s some racializing of the criticism. Ed and you and I were on about a month ago on this exact point. Billy Shaheen, who referred to Obama`s book, was out of line, was wrong, should have been fired. I don`t believe there`s any systematic effort to raise that issue...

MATTHEWS: Why did Mark -- why did Mark Penn raise it on my show twice, cocaine, cocaine? Why did Bob Johnson do it again? Why do they keep doing it?

GREEN: May I answer? If you want to talk about what surrogates say, then the surrogate who said of Hillary Clinton -- - who worked for Obama -- she`s just the senator from Punjab, making fun of her pro-Indian views...

MATTHEWS: Right.

GREEN: When I read that, I didn`t think Obama believed that. I thought it was some idiot staff person was saying it.

MATTHEWS: Mark...

GREEN: Let me answer your question.

MATTHEWS: Penn is her message person. He`s not a surrogate. He`s the guy who writes the messages like inner city and slumlord. He`s the confector of this theme.

GREEN: Let me...

MATTHEWS: He`s not some bystander.

GREEN: Chris, that was...

MATTHEWS: Is he, or not?

GREEN: That was the show where you kept using the line, Do things go better with Coke? You weren`t raising it to be racial. Shaheen, was an idiot, was fired. Let`s talk about what`s happening with Bill Clinton now. I think Bill Clinton is largely wrong in his attack on Iraq, largely right in his criticism on experience.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Let me go to -- let me go to Charlie Rose. Let`s let the former president speak for himself, and then Ed Schultz can respond.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLIE ROSE, HOST: You want to say to the voters, if they are prepared to choose someone with less experience, but perhaps other qualities -- and as you`ve said, gifted in politics, gifted in intellect...

BILL CLINTON: Very gifted.

ROSE: ... then they`re rolling the dice, is what you`re saying.

BILL CLINTON: Well...

ROSE: They are rolling the dice about America...

BILL CLINTON: It`s less predictable.

ROSE: ... if they don`t choose the person who`s had the kind of experience you`re talking about.

BILL CLINTON: It`s less predictable. Isn`t it? I mean, when`s the last time we elected a president based on one year of service in the Senate before he started running? I mean, he will have been a senator longer by the time he`s inaugurated, but essentially, once you start to run for president full-time, you don`t have time to do much else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, I don`t know why we used that, but he said rolling the dice, but it was Charlie Rose`s word phrase there. He used it. Ed Schultz, your thought?

SCHULTZ: Well, Chris, it`s just a part of a pattern that has taken place from the Clinton camp. This is attacking his experience. Now, you know, that`s probably acceptable, OK, questioning experience. But it`s going beyond that. It`s the surrogates that have brought up the drug stuff from 25 years ago. It`s the position on the war, which is a flat-out lie. And now it`s this Reagan and Republican thing.

Now, the comment that was there -- I think that we got to be fair about this -- this all good ideas is an absolute falsehood. What his comment was, the Republicans were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time over the last 10, 15 years, in the sense that they were challenging conventional wisdom.

Now, do I need to remind Americans that in `94, Newt Gingrich came along and had some ideas that the country went with, and we saw a shift of the Congress for the first time in 40 years? Now, was Bill Clinton president then? Did Bill Clinton bring us NAFTA, which a lot of working folks don`t like right now?

I mean, you know, look, this is not about Bill Clinton, but Bill Clinton is hurting the party to the point where Ted Kennedy is speaking up, long-time Democrat Pat Leahy is speaking up. Now even a newcomer to the Senate, Claire McCaskill...

MATTHEWS: OK...

SCHULTZ: ... is willing to step up and talk like this. It`s just too bad.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: We`re going to come back -- Mark, respond. Go ahead. I`m sorry.

GREEN: One sentence on this. You can criticize Bill Clinton. He screwed up and failed on health care in 1993 and `94. Everybody knows that. But because the economy was as strong as it`s been in 40 years, because he didn`t invade and occupy a Muslim country, most Americans, and most Democrats by far, think he was a terrific president.

And if Barack Obama is going to say, We don`t want to -- we want to turn the page and not go back to the `90s, guess what, Ed? Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton will say, The `90s were pretty good. What didn`t you like about it? That is totally fair. And to imply that`s wrong or lying or racial is itself unfair.

MATTHEWS: Well, long ago, in the hearings that...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ: I don`t think it is, and I think Bill Clinton`s a liar!

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.