In the wake of MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews's deplorable comments regarding the Bush administration having "finally been caught in their criminality," many conservatives are wondering if this clearly left-leaning pundit should be allowed to moderate GOP presidential debates including this Tuesday's.
To address the growing controversy, Fox News's "Fox & Friends" invited media members from both sides of the aisle Monday morning to debate the issue. On the left were Ellis Henican of Newsday and Ellen Ratner of FNC; on the right were radio host Herman Cain and Jim Pinkerton of Newsday (video available here courtesy Johnny Dollar).
In the end, I strongly agree with Henican and Cain who felt that candidates should be willing and able to answer anybody's questions regardless of political leaning if they want to attain the highest office in the land.
On Friday's Hardball, MSNBC's Chris Matthews tried to explain away his “criminality” allegation against the Bush administration, hailed as his “hero” a CBS News correspondent who touted Jesse Jackson as “a sort of conscience of the country” and, in showing pictures from the Thursday night party celebrating Hardball's 10th anniversary, illustrated how he was surrounded by liberals.
Comments from Matthews on his show suggested that his charge against the Bush administration -- “they've finally been caught in their criminality” -- which the Washington Examiner quoted him as saying at the party, was merely a reference to Scooter Libby. But he failed to specifically clarify, correct or deny the quote. He argued “that in one case,” Bush administration “efforts to silence critics, and to cover up those efforts, got a senior Cheney aide caught up in criminality, indeed, in a conviction for perjury and obstruction of justice.” Matthews, playing the martyr to obviously unsuccessful supposed attempts to silence him, then trumpeted “my hero Eric Sevareid,” who “once noted we cannot always be right on the facts, though we must try to be; we cannot always be fair, but we must try to be. But we must always be independent.” If only Matthews really lived up to that “independent” promise.
MRC Research Director and NewsBusters senior editor Rich Noyes appeared on Friday's "The Big Story with John Gibson" on the Fox News Channel to discuss how MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews declared that the administration has “been caught in their criminality” just days before he was scheduled to co-moderate a GOP presidential debate on CNBC.
In a week when Democratic senators tried to intimidate executives at Clear Channel Communications based on a false interpretation of Rush Limbaugh’s “phony soldiers” comment, MSNBC host Chris Matthews on Thursday decried what he said were complaints from the Bush White House to MSNBC executives about the content of his show. “They will not silence me!” Matthews declared at a celebration of the 10th anniversary of his "Hardball" show, the (Washington, D.C.) Examiner reported.
Talking about the Democrats’ threats to silence Limbaugh on Tuesday, Matthews put all of the onus on Limbaugh’s speech, not liberals’ attacks on the First Amendement. “Do you think that Rush Limbaugh was right to call people who oppose the war who have served ‘phony soldiers?’” Matthews demanded of a panelist, distorting the facts. “So we’re agreed, so we all disagree with Rush Limbaugh,” he later claimed.
The fellow synonymous with "Hardball" showed his soft side today. Interviewed by his wife to help mark the show's 10th anniversary and promote his new book, "Life's a Campaign,"Chris Matthews was frequently emotional as he talked about everything from his heroes [including JFK, Churchill and Hemingway], his drinking days and his admiration for John McCain's patriotism.
In contrast, Kathleen Matthews, a former TV news anchor, exuded a composed professionalism. A nice, cool balance to Chris's fire, it seemed.
Later, John Kerry reminded us of what we didn't, shall we say, necessarily love about the guy.
Despite the fact that the print media have mostly backed off the "phoney soldiers" smear against Rush Limbaugh, on Wednesday's "Hardball," host Chris Matthews refused to correct the record, instead choosing to toss a softball to anti-war Congressman Jack Murtha as he asked him on Wednesday's "Hardball":
"What do you think of Rush Limbaugh's comment the other day that somebody was a phony soldier because they opposed the war? He also said they were a phony Republican, by the way, because he said Republicans couldn't possibly, a Republican couldn't possibly be against the war? What do you make of that?"
Rep. Jack Murtha: "I don't watch Rush Limbaugh."
Matthews: "Ha! You don't have to watch him, you gotta hear about him. I don't either, I hear about him."
The Media Research Center distributed the following press release Monday afternoon:
Media Research Center President Brent Bozell blasted MSNBC for deliberately misrepresenting statements radio host Rush Limbaugh made Thursday about an anti-war activist who falsely and despicably passed himself off as an Army Ranger and Purple Heart winner. On Friday, MSNBC’s Hardball and Countdown programs wrongly adopted the dishonest spin of the far-left group Media Matters to attack Limbaugh.
On Monday, three days before Limbaugh’s comments, ABC’s World News exposed the same anti-war activist, and ABC reporter Brian Ross declared his story “a complete fabrication.” In spite of this, Media Matters and MSNBC pounded Limbaugh for making the exact same point.
All day Friday, even after Rush Limbaugh corrected the misinformation, MSNBC promoted a story fed to them by the far-left Media Matters about how Rush Limbaugh had called military personnel who served in Iraq and oppose the war “phony soldiers.” Limbaugh opened his noon EDT radio show on Friday by explaining how he was referring not to any real soldier but a phony one, notably Jesse MacBeth, who became a hero to the left when he recounted how his Army unit murdered innocent Iraqis. In fact, he hadn't even completed basic training.
Nonetheless, MSNBC headlined a 4pm EDT segment “'PHONY SOLDIERS' INSULT; Rush Limbaugh: U.S. Troops Who Oppose Iraq War are 'Phony.'” Anchor Tamron Hall asserted: “Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh never served in the armed forces, so when he made the following comments about Iraq War veterans who return home to oppose the war, it set off a firestorm of outrage.” Hall ran a clip of Limbaugh saying it is Democrats who need to apologize for insulting the troops, but failed to relay Limbaugh's explanation of who he said was “phony.” Pairing it with MoveOn's “General Betray Us” ad, retired Colonel Jack Jacobs called it “stupid talk” and suggested those in the military “would like people who don't know what they're talking about to just shut up.”
At the top of the next hour, Chris Matthews teased Hardball: “Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh says veterans who support withdrawing the troops are 'phony soldiers.' Those are his words.” A guest charged Limbaugh “didn't go to Vietnam because he had a bump on his butt. So, I mean, this guy's a draft-dodger.” Then at 8pm EDT, with “Limbaugh Bashes Vets for Withdrawal” on screen, and briefly “...Phony Soldiers...” over video of Limbaugh, Keith Olbermann teased Countdown: “Comedian Rush Limbaugh tries to back out of his quote: Servicemen protesting the war are quote, 'phony soldiers.'”
Of all people, you'd think a movie director would understand the importance of sticking to the script. But no . . .
There was a delicious moment on this afternoon's "Hardball." Host Chris Matthews had billed a new movie as standing for the proposition that Saudis hate Americans [note the screen graphic]. But when the movie's director came on, he declined to buy into Matthews's sweeping generalization, pitched capitalism as the answer to the region's problems, and even speculated that Iraq war has helped America's relations in the Middle East.
In his opening tease, Matthews proclaimed "Let's talk about why the Saudis hate us . . . in our second story tonight, why do Saudis hate Americans?"
Then, after an interview about Iran with Mario Cuomo [yes, he's still around], Matthews, teasing the next segment:
Did Chris Matthews, on his September 24th edition of "Hardball," really hear Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "allow" that there was a Holocaust? This is what he insisted to New York City Councilman David Weprin:
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s talk about that very point. The hottest issue of the last century, of course, and the worst case of inhumanity to man, of course, is the Holocaust. I listened carefully to him. And I know you did, sir. Didn‘t you hear him allow the fact that there was, in fact, a Holocaust?
WEPRIN: Well, he—his statement today was different than his statement in the past.
WEPRIN: In the past, he‘s clearly said that the Holocaust was a hoax, it never existed. Now he‘s talking about doing more research. There‘s no question...
The title of Laura Ingraham's new book is "Power to the People," and the conservative commentator paraded power of her own to burn in her smackdown with Chris Matthews on this afternoon's "Hardball." The bone of contention was Matthews's suggestion that former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan had, in his new book, said that oil was the key to the Bush administration's decision to go to war in Iraq.
Sticking and moving like a prize fighter, talk show host and author Laura Ingraham, outnumbered in a three against one fight, took out not only "Hardball" host Chris Matthews but his colleague David Shuster and NBC News political director Chuck Todd, as well.
View video here. (courtesy NB contributor Mark Finkelstein)
On Thursday night's "Hardball" Ingraham took Matthews to task for his outrageous claims about the Iraq war being about oil as she threw his past bias in his face: "What? What? Chris are, were you the one, the other night, correct me if I'm wrong, who said that we should hang Exxon and Mobil signs at, at Arlington National Cemetery?" Then Ingraham slapped down Matthews about his pessimistic view on the war: "Chris, I'm different from [where] you are on this. I actually have hope that goodness will prevail."
He's baack! Steve Skvara, the man who won the hearts and minds of many in the mainstream media by essentially calling for other people to pay for his wife's health insurance will soon be on Oprah Winfrey's talk show.
Not once but twice, Chris Matthews today accused Hillary Clinton of "pimping" for having staged a fundraiser that brought together high-rolling homeland-security lobbyists and the congressmen with power over their pet interests.
Matthews leveled the charge on this afternoon's "Hardball" in the course of an interview with David Bonior, John Edwards's campaign manager. The Edwards campaign, in an email from campaign advisor Joe Trippi, has swiped hard at Hillary over the fundraiser, calling it "corrupt."
Upset that a University of Florida student was tasered by campus police at a John Kerry event, MSNBC's Chris Matthews, on Tuesday's, "Hardball" feared it was a result of the "fascistic notion" of American troops "forcing" democracy on Iraqis at "gunpoint", filtering back home.
Chris Matthews: "You know when we walk into those, every night on television you watch pictures of American soldiers risking their lives to break into homes in Baghdad, at gunpoint, telling people to go along with the government that we've set up over there. Democracy at gunpoint. I wonder if it's filtered back here at home. I wonder if it's drift back home? The idea that democracy is something you do at gunpoint. ‘Either you behave and do it this way and show up by putting your fingers in the ink and doing it this way or you're an insurgent, therefore, we can round you up and if you resist we can kill you.'That notion it's a bit fascist and it's certainly a fascistic notion of democracy we're forcing, forcing on people over there. They didn't invited us into Iraq and I wonder now whether we are picking up some of the bad habits of the war front?"
Chris Matthews might as well have chanted "No Blood For Oil" throughout the Monday edition of MSNBC's "Hardball" as he sounded like an anti-war protestor as he charged that U.S. servicemen and women were spilling blood for Big Oil, as he questioned: "Are we fighting for the American oil companies for Mobil and Exxon? And they are making these enormous profits because of access to oil over there...Should we put Exxon signs up over Arlington Cemetery and Mobil signs up there, like they have at baseball stadiums?"
Pivoting off a David Shuster report that claimed Alan Greenspan "provided evidence" that the Iraq war has been "fought for oil," Matthews devoted much of the September 17 edition of "Hardball" to that conspiracy theory. The following is Shuster's report followed by Matthews's various "No Blood for Oil," rants:
It's a flip-flop that would be the envy of John Kerry in good windsurfing weather off Nantucket. For the last two days, Chris Matthews had been excoriating General David Petraeus for his reluctance to opine on the effect of the Iraq war on America's safety at home. Suddenly this morning, Matthews has decided that -- guess what? -- it's not Petraeus's job to make pronouncements of that sort.
As far as MSNBC's Chris Matthews is concerned, David Petraeus, four-star general, commander of the Multi-National Force-Iraq, someone who has devoted his life to serving our country, is no better than Charlie McCarthy, a ventriloquist's dummy.
See UPDATE at foot: Gen. Petraeus subsequently testified to the importance of Iraq to national security.
In the wake of the odious MoveOn.org ad calling our commander in Iraq "General Betray Us," [read Dean Barnett's excellent take here] you might have thought the last thing a responsible member of the media would do would be to accuse other senior officials of "betrayal."
I did say "responsible." On this afternoon's "Hardball," Chris Matthews accused President Bush of "betrayal" for his handling of Iraq.
The "Hardball" host was fuming over Gen. Petraeus's reluctance to state whether the war in Iraq would make America safer.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: He couldn't say whether what we're doing in Iraq makes America safer or not. He couldn't say whether the lost lives, the misery, the hundreds of billions of dollars being spent are worth the effort in terms of our national security.
Several media outlets used the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina as an excuse to promote the 2008 Democratic candidates. On CNN, right after running a glowing piece on Democrats such as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, anchor Soledad O’Brien sermonized that "no event has damaged the Bush White House more than Katrina." Over on ABC, "Good Morning America" co-host Robin Roberts claimed that candidates from "both parties" would travel to New Orleans to "point out the Bush administration's shortcomings in fixing many problems that still exist, like those being forced to still live in trailers."
"Hardball" regular David Shuster managed to combine both the Katrina coverage with the scandal over Senator Larry Craig. He bizarrely claimed that the Craig incident "adds moral insult to the injuries being suffered today by the victims of Hurricane Katrina."
This could be something of a first: a major MSM player admits there's a case to be made that the media is incredibly biased against Republicans.
As I noted here, when Tom DeLay accused the media of bias on this morning's "Today," Matt Lauer stonewalled: "I'm not going to let it, you know, end with that assumption, congressman, because I clearly don't agree with it."
But appearing on this afternoon's Harball, DeLay successfully wangled an admission from host Chris Matthews.
TOM DELAY: If [Craig] has been found guilty of what he's been accused of, then yeah. But I do know that the Republicans will do something about it. I do know that if he were a Democrat they would rally around him and they would not do something about it. I do know that the national media is incredibly biased against Republicans that find themselves [in trouble] --
CHRIS MATTHEWS: That's a charge which I've heard before and I can understand why you make it. You make it a lot. Sometimes you have a case to make. Sometimes.
On the Wednesday night edition of MSNBC's "Hardball" Chris Matthews and David Shuster continued to use the Larry Craig scandal to bury the GOP and while Matthews declared "the downfall of" Bush's party was "driven by every movement of the body politic" it was his colleague Shuster who outdid him when, after running down a litany of GOP troubles ranging from Craig to the resignation of Alberto Gonzales, charged: "It all adds moral insult to the injuries being suffered today by the victims of Hurricane Katrina."
Is the White House going to pull a Lucy again with the football trick all over again? For months, President Bush has been asking us to wait for a report from General Petraeus. How many times did we hear that phrase, Wait for the report from General Petraeus? Now we learn that the White House is going to write the report - the White House! - and that the general will testify publicly before Congress only after the report has been written by Bush‘s people.
And later as he hosted a panel discussion on the topic:
Chris Matthews' "Hardball" producers let the host down, as neither Sen. Pat Leahy or Rep. Henry Waxman accepted Matthews' invitation to grill Karl Rove on tonight's 5pm edition of Hardball. However that didn't stop Matthews from taking a few shots of his own at the President's adviser, as he called Rove a "bum," and sarcastically commented on Rove's genius as he greeted viewers of the August 13th edition of "Hardball" this way:
Matthews: "Can President Bush think without the man they call his brain? What about all those great ideas like dividing the country over Iraq and leaving New Orleans to drop into the sea? A country without Karl Rove calling the shots? Let's fear for the Republic. Let's play Hardball."
Apparently Hardball host Chris Matthews has a bit of a problem keeping his lust in check on the air. On Friday evening's Hardball, Matthews was interviewing CNBC's Street Signs anchor, Erin Burnett, about the latest Wall Street news when suddenly he switched gears as you can see in this video. The official transcript isn't up yet on the MSNBC website but here is a transcription of the conversation as best I could understand it:
MATTHEWS: Could you get a little closer to the camera?
BURNETT: What is it? Is it (garbled) in strangely?
Two military veterans almost came to blows on MSNBC's "Hardball" Wednesday evening as they debated the war in Iraq, and what presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (D-New York) would do if she wins the White House.
On the left was anti-war activist Jon Soltz of VoteVets.org, who became known to most conservatives when he prevented a uniformed soldier from speaking at a YearlyKos breakout session last Friday.
On the right was Move America Forward Vice Chairman, and two-time New York Times bestselling author Buzz Patterson.
As the sparks began to fly early, I'm going to just role the tape (video available here), and allow you to read along with the transcript that follows (h/t Melanie Morgan):
On tonight's Hardball, Mike Barnicle, substitute-hosting for Chris Matthews, used the tragedy of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis to call for bigger government and wondered, "Does this help the Democrats?" All throughout tonight's show, Barnicle repeatedly pressed his guests to call for an increase in the size of government and at one point even demanded: "Government's gotta get bigger!"
First up Barnicle asked the liberal Barney Frank where he would find the money to pay for bridge repair. After Frank responded that he would "end the war in Iraq" and raise taxes to improve America's infrastructure, Barnicle took the Congressman's cue to advance the tax hike/big government theme for the entirety of the show.
The following are just some of the exchanges as they occured on the August 2, edition of MSNBC's Hardball:
Does the MSM have the vaguest clue about what makes Republicans tick? For months the liberal media has been propounding the absurd notion that John McCain's quest to obtain the Republican presidential nomination has been undermined by his support for the Iraq war. The Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart seems a good guy, but he has now added a clueless coda to that misperception, suggesting that McCain's efforts to repair his relations with the religious right has done him in.
Capehart was part of a panel on this afternoon's "Hardball." Mike Barnicle guest hosted for Chris Matthews, and asked the question "is John McCain gone?"
WASHINGTON POST EDITORIALIST JONATHAN CAPEHART: At least for me, as a member of the press, when John McCain . . . called Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell "agents of intolerance," I thought now there's straight talk, that's someone standing on his own two feet. But then, when he walked away from that recently, I thought wait a minute, what happened to straight talk?
Fortunately, the Weekly Standard's Matt Continetti was there to set him straight.