Chris Matthews' New Thrill? Hardball Host Flips and Praises 'Serious,' 'Informed' Bachmann

What is Chris Matthews up to? The MSNBC anchor, who once trashed Michele Bachmann as a "zombie" and a "nutcase," on Tuesday praised the Congresswoman as "poised, informed and serious." Touting Bachmann's performance in Monday's Republican presidential debate, he gushed that the Representative did "great."

The Hardball host, who once battled with Bachmann and wondered if she was "hypnotized," hyped that the debate saw "the emergence of a star." He added, "[Bachmann] was, of course, created here. She came off as...poised, informed and serious. Could she be the candidate that Sarah Palin was supposed to be?"

In an amusing moment, Matthews prefaced a question to Jennifer Donahue of the Huffington Post by proclaiming, "I'm not an active Republican." Regular viewers of MSNBC probably already know that.

A partial transcript of the June 16 segment can be found below:

5pm

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Maybe the biggest story from last night was not Romney's cool or Pawlenty's retreat, but the emergence of a star, Michele Bachmann. She was, of course, created here. She came off as poised, informed, that's right, Gene, poised, informed and serious. Could she be the candidate that Sarah Palin was supposed to be?

5:19

MATTHEWS: Well, there's a woman, person, a friend not afraid of the mainstream media.

MICHAEL STEELE: That's right. She's not.

MATTHEWS: No hiding over in Fox land. First of all, what did you think of her performance last night? Because we all thought she was great.

STEELE: I thought she hit a home run. She came to the table with an agenda and she stuck to it. And you got it right. That battle cry, Obama's a one term president will probably resonate as a theme throughout her campaign. And I think that a lot of the folks in this town who act surprised that, wow, the way she did that. That's Michele. She connecting in way that's genuine. She does bring a little extra to the table and I was struck by the fact a lot of folks didn't take advantage of that opportunity to really carve out their space like she did in a very unique way. I thought the whole thing with Pawlenty and Romney was just talk about anti-climactic. Build this thing up and let it go.

MATTHEWS: And also, I think they're posturing, my hunch is- I'm not an active Republican.

STEELE: I'm working on you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: I know. Jennifer, seems to me the other candidates suffer, they suffered. She wins, in this sense, she benefits. They looked like they were trying to figure out- They handle issues. They're trying to figure where they stand. Romney is proving the ultimate flip-flopper by not flip-flopping on a couple issue, which is really flip-flopping. And the other guys trying to be a tea partier when he isn't. And she is what she is. I've always given her credit for not being, for example, a birther, who plays on cheap shots.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org