MSNBC's Chris Matthews opened his "Hardball" program Monday by once again bashing the possible Republican presidential candidates.
With Indiana governor Mitch Daniels dropping out Saturday, Matthews focused his attention on Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, and Jon Huntsman telling guests John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, "I don’t want an interview with any of these guys" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: You first, you first. Which one of these fellows, we mentioned three of them, they're regular Republicans, conservative Republicans, I assume, I guess we are thinking that perhaps left to right it's probably Huntsman, Pawlenty and then Romney today, but it keeps changing. Which one of these could excite a big heated room down in Tampa, Florida, next September, when all the people are there, the whole party, left, rather right to far right, is present? Which could excite them and turn them on most likely? Mark?
MARK HALPERIN, TIME MAGAZINE: All three have the potential to do it. But all of them have challenges, that is a challenge for all three of them, that particular skill.
JOHN HEILEMANN, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: I think the one who has the most potential to be able to tap into the Tea Party's energy is Tim Pawlenty because in fact he is more of a populist, he’s more of a working class guy and he’s more of a social conservative. And we’re going to see him run that way in Iowa for instance. He’s going to run as a strong evangelical Christian. He can tap into a lot of that grass roots energy in a way that the other two might not be able.
MATTHEWS: Well, I have an advantage over you guys: I don’t want an interview with any of these guys.
Imagine saying that about men that could actually end up being president - that you don't want to interview them because you think they're boring.
Should journalists only interview candidates that give them a thrill up their leg? Would Matthews have declined to interview Walter Mondale in 1984 or Michael Dukakis in 1988, neither of which were at all exciting?
Ironically, Matthews' colleague Rachel Maddow predicted on his syndicated program this weekend that one of the GOP candidates would refuse all interviews with mainstream media outlets.
Maybe Matthews wants to be the snubber rather than the snubbee.
Of course, this is all a smokescreen, for the most exciting possible GOP candidate - from a purely entertaining level - was Donald Trump, and Matthews spent weeks trashing him day after day.
As such, it's not excitement Matthews is looking for in a candidate - it's liberalism, and any that don't slant left are the subject of his ire.
This was extremely obvious Monday as no matter how he pounded on the threesome in question, the "Hardball" host's guests - who both had significant access to the 2008 candidates for their book "Game Change" - were far more positive.
Halperin for example mentioned that he had spent the weekend covering Huntsman and found the former ambassador to China to have a greater ability to speak about that nation than any presidential candidate he's ever seen with the exception of Bill Clinton. The Time magazine editor ended his thought by saying that Huntsman shows potential on a range of issues that if he lives up to, "I think he will be the next President of the United States."
Matthews was having none of this and instead told his guests, "I have an advantage over you guys: I don’t want an interview with any of these guys."
And this is what passes for journalism today at the so-called cable news network known as MSNBC.