Ron Christie Schools Chris Matthews: 'The Facts Get in the Way of a Good Narrative'

MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Monday perfectly demonstrated that he is willing to contentiously debate issues with conservative guests without regard for the truth.

In the middle of a Hardball segment about the Democrat proposal to extend the payroll tax holiday, Matthews ignorantly accused the far more knowledgeable Ron Christie of "complicating" the discussion leading his guest to marvelously respond, "Of course, the facts get in the way of a good narrative" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Ron Christie is a Republican strategist and a fellow at the John F. Kennedy Institute of Politics at Harvard. Ron, I want to start with you on this for once and I want to give you the honor of explaining this. Republicans believe that we shouldn’t do anything that's onerous on hiring people because that makes it harder to hire people and reduces unemployment. Is that correct?

RON CHRISTIE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Generally speaking? Generally speaking, for example, Republicans usually oppose any -- or support a differential for youth getting jobs in the summer, a lower minimum wage, for example, because it makes them cheaper, and therefore gets more young people hired in the summer, right? So the general Republican working principle is make it cheaper to hire people per hour, whether it's through minimum wage being lower or lower taxes on hiring them, so more people will get hired. Isn’t that right?

CHRISTIE: Yep. So far, so good.

MATTHEWS: Okay, well what about this time? Why are they opposed to continuing the holiday or the tax cut on the payroll tax?

CHRISTIE: Well, Chris, I think there are two things at play here. First of all, politically speaking, at the end of December or before everyone goes home for the holidays, I think you’re going to have an extension of the payroll tax holiday. So what we're talking about, really, is a matter of politics rather than a matter of substance. The substance of the matter is Republicans are very much against raising taxes, particularly in a weak economy. For all the reasons that you just outlined, you don't want to hurt those who are helping to create jobs in the United States. What we have here, though, is an entirely different issue. You have a payroll tax holiday. Last year, the Congress and the President came out with an agreement that said, “We are going to divert two percent of the money that you would otherwise be putting away for Social Security back into your pockets.” That amounted to about $19.24 in everybody's pocketbook per week.

Now what we have is a Democratic proposal that says, “We're going to take three percent out, and not only are we going to take three percent out of Social Security, but we're also going to tax millionaires, we're going to tax the wealthy people, we’re going to tax the people who are creating the small businesses in this country to pay for it. So if raising taxes is a bad idea in a weak economy…

MATTHEWS: Okay, okay…

CHRISTIE: …then how is it that you can also say you should raise them?

MATTHEWS: David, you take over. He’s your witness, David, because I only heard the President say, “Let's continue the payroll tax cut.” There's no quid pro quo in the way it would be legislated. But Ron's complicating the thing here. Basically what you admitted…

CHRISTIE: Of course, the facts get in the way of a good narrative.


Indeed they do, and those familiar with Christie likely assume he knew what he was talking about.

As CNBC.com reported earlier in the day (emphasis added to highlight Matthews' ignorance):

Senate Democrats are pressing ahead on President Barack Obama's plan to cut in half every worker's payroll taxes next year — paid for by a 3.25 percent tax surcharge on the very wealthy.

The $248 billion plan would trim Social Security payroll taxes from 6.2 percent to 3.1 percent in hopes of propping up the still-weak economy. It also would cut in half the 6.2 percent tax paid by employers on the first $5 million of their payroll.

Once again, here's what Matthews said: "I only heard the President say, 'Let's continue the payroll tax cut.' There's no quid pro quo in the way it would be legislated."

And this man has not one but two nationally televised programs to misinform the public.

Pretty scary, isn't it?

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