Chris Matthews: 'Right-wing Press Played Up Rangel Censure,' Left More Compassionate to GOP Wrongdoers

Chris Matthews on Friday made the absurd claim the "compassionate" Left is too soft on Republican wrongdoers, and that by contrast the Right puts it's "heel into the back of the guy's head when he's down."

The "Hardball" host - with a straight face no less - said this to guests Ron Reagan and Politico's Roger Simon with reference to how the "right-wing press played up [Charlie] Rangel's censure" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Big question. We could ask this any night, but it’s getting hotter. Do Democrats go for the jugular, the way Republicans do?

John Ensign escaped a federal investigation, is now seeking a third term. David Vitter got reelected last month. Charlie Rangel got censured. And just look at how the right-wing press played up Rangel’s censure yesterday. Well, look at it today.

"The New York Post," look at it, front page. They blew it up on their front page with the headline, "Charlie Goes Down Fighting." Great. That’s great stuff, made him miserable.

"The Washington Times," a real right-wing paper, put it above the fold -- look at this -- with a big, happy, miserable picture of Charlie Rangel looking dejected.

In contrast, look at "The Daily News," a liberal paper, relegated it to one line at the very top of their front page. "The New York Times," the gray lady, put the story in their first column on the left side, no picture, just no painful exploitation of the thing. They buried the thing inside the paper.

Look at "The Washington Post." They have no point of view anymore. They put it below the fold.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I don’t even know what "The Post" stands for.

Ron Reagan is a political commentator and former radio host.

I’m talking about, Ron -- you’re chuckling, because the right wing seems to know how to put your heel into the back of the guy’s head when he’s down, whereas the Democrats feel a little compassion. When they see Vitter caught with a hooker in D.C. and then caught later apparently down in Louisiana, they say, hey, he’s just human. Give him a break.

The other guy buys off the husband and top staffer of the woman he had the affair with, with federal largess, and he’s probably going to get reelected out in Nevada.

Republicans are meaner, I think. I think. Your thoughts?

(LAUGHTER)

RON REAGAN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think you’re probably right. I think they’re better at this sort of all’s fair in love and war kind of stuff.

We saw it again. I think there was a real watershed this moment -- this week between the White House and Congress, where they had the Slurpee summit. And, Obama comes out and says the usual things you say about a private conversation: Don’t want to give away anything, but we had a nice conversation. We’re all going to work together for the American people.

Republicans come out and say, well, we congratulate the president for basically -- I’m paraphrasing -- apologizing to us for not giving us what we want.

MATTHEWS: Sweet.

(LAUGHTER)

REAGAN: And, then 24 hours later, they issue the ultimatum: Give us everything we want, or we shut down the government.

So much for, you go and then I go.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me let Roger get in here.

Is there a difference in the way they behave?

ROGER SIMON, CHIEF POLITICAL COLUMNIST, THEPOLITICO.COM: Oh, sure.

MATTHEWS: I argue that the Republicans put their heel in the back of your head, like in a schoolyard fight in a tough neighborhood.

SIMON: Yes. Well, they always bring a gun to a knife fight, the Republicans.

MATTHEWS: Like Jimmy in your town.

SIMON: Right. The Democrats show up with little butter knives.

I don’t think the right wing is meaner than the left wing. I think they’re just better at it.

MATTHEWS: Oh, aren’t you Chicago?

SIMON: No. Well, they’re a lot better at it. I mean --

MATTHEWS: Tell me why that’s good. Well, just make the case. Why is it better to be nastier or to be more personal? Because we’re talking personal issues here. Everybody knew Charlie Rangel broke the rules. The question was how much to smash his face in with this, whether to make it a reprimand or a censure and how much to put on the front page and really humiliate him. The right-wing press said, let’s really stick it to him. And they did.

SIMON: Well, that’s what the right-wing press does. I mean, they have more experience at it.

Look, you talk about mean people. You talk about mean campaigns. You’re talking about Willie Horton. You’re talking about --

MATTHEWS: Using race, using everything.

SIMON: Yes. You’re talking about Swift Boat Veterans. You’re talking about real game-changing things.

Democrats don’t have stuff like that. You’re talking about -- you want a good mean guy, when Glenn Beck says, Barack Obama is a racist, he has a deep-seated hatred for the white people or the white culture. That’s a direct quote.

MATTHEWS: There’s not much like that on the Democrat side, I think.

SIMON: There’s not. You get wry, sardonic, witty people like Stephen Colbert, like Jon Stewart. Now, I think they’re more effective because they can persuade persuadable people. But they’re in a whole different league than people who just hit you in the face and keep hitting you in the face. That’s whole they got.

MATTHEWS: I think you’re saying it so well, Roger. I don’t know you beat what I just heard there. I don’t know about you, but a great memory for the details of evil.

And Matthews clearly doesn't.

Is he forgetting how Democrats and the liberal media went after former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's ethics violations in 1997 eventually forcing his resignation after the 1998 midterm elections? Didn't they go for the jugular then?

Or how about former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay being similarly excoriated when his ethics issues arose in 2005 leading to his resignation? There are many that believe his violations were far less serious than what Rangel was just censured for.

If this wasn't an example of Democrats and the Left going for the jugular, what is?

As for sexual scandals, the one involving former Florida representative Mark Foley in 2006 not only resulted in his resignation, but was such a media focus in the months preceding the midterm elections that it greatly assisted Democrats taking back the House.

Have Matthews and his guests forgotten about that?

Or how about the George Allen "macaca" scandal that garnered so much Democrat and media attention that it directly led to his defeat and the Democrats taking back the Senate?

Have Matthews and his guests also forgotten this? And the Larry Craig airport bathroom scandal in 2007 that forced him not to seek re-election the following year?

And what about Ensign's scandal? Do Matthews, Reagan, and Simon actually believe this has gone unreported?

A Google search of "John Ensign scandal" generates 65,000 results. Matthews' own network has been all over this story since it broke last year with the "Hardball" host discussing it numerous times.

The same is true for Vitter's scandal which generates almost 69,000 Google hits. Much as with Ensign, the folks at MSNBC have regularly discussed Vitter's sex scandal including Matthews himself.

Makes you wonder if Matthews and Simon actually believed the nonsense they were spewing on Friday or if their devotion to the Democrats runs so deep they're totally blind to the truth.

Whatever the answer, they should both be ashamed of themselves.

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