During Friday’s post-debate coverage on MSNBC, Chris Matthews portrayed Barack Obama as appearing "more presidential" while he complained that John McCain "was crunched over, almost grumpy in physical manner," as he contended that McCain "may not have been presidential." Matthews also complained that McCain did not look at Obama at all during the debate, a theme which Matthews touched on repeatedly that night. Matthews: "[McCain] may not have been presidential, however. Not once tonight, in an hour and a half, did he look at his opponent. He was crunched over, almost grumpy in his physical manner. I think a lot of people will take that body language as contemptuous of his opponent. They won’t like it. Barack Obama, on the other hand, who kept agreeing with McCain, over and over again, saying I agree with the point you made, I agree with the point you made, looked more presidential, although I believe on points, he gave away too much."
Matthews also characterized McCain as "troll-like" and "grumpy," and asked if Americans "really want to put up with four years of that," and described McCain as seeming "really contemptuous" of Obama. Guest John Heilemann contended that McCain "hates Obama." Matthews: "Do people really want to put up with four years of that? Of sitting there angrily, grumpily, like a codger? Like, like, I don’t want to push it too far, but didn’t he seem really contemptuous of his opponent? Do you want to put up with four years of that?"
During late night coverage of Friday's presidential debate between Senators Barack Obama and John McCain, “Hardball” host Chris Matthews attacked the Republican for showing both “contempt” and an “inferiority complex” towards his Democratic opponent. The MSNBC host asked liberal Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, “What do you make of what I take as contempt? And I’m not sure contempt is an admirable trait when you’re up against an opponent who has every right to be there against you, in fact has equal footing.”
Before Robinson could answer, Matthews revised the question, asking if this indicated some sort of “inferiority complex” on McCain’s part: “He never looked at his opponent. What is that about? Is that an inferiority complex? Is that embarrassment? Is that guilt? Or is it contempt? What is it? It’s something.” Robinson eagerly agreed, asserting that “this is part of John McCain’s style that he, he has to make an opponent into an enemy” and adding that the GOP candidate “almost has to demonize the enemy in order to get into that, that, that fighting stance.”
Don't get me wrong. I don't mean to suggest Mike Barnicle's nearly as deep in the tank for Obama as Chris Matthews, for whom he subbed for on tonight's Hardball. Mike's actually refreshingly down-the-middle compared to the regular host.
Still, when at the very end of this evening's show Mike asked a question of Jill Zuckman, the Chicago Tribune reporter on the Palin beat, wondering [hoping?] whether the wild enthusiasm for Sarah has run its course, he got an answer that I don't quite think he was expecting.
On this evening's Hardball, Chris Matthews began his teaser for a segment about Sarah Palin's pending press interview and plans to field questions at a town hall by exclaiming "look who's talking" as an image of Palin [see screencap] appeared bearing the same graphic.
"Look who's talking" is of course the title of a 1989 hit movie in which the person doing the talking was . . . an infant.
Of course we all know that it's absolutely wrong and mean-spirited to suggest that anyone on the left could conceivably be unpatriotic [though an exception might be made for unrepentant terrorist friends of Barack Obama who accept from Vietnamese communists rings made from downed US planes.] So while we won't be using the u-word here, two recent MSNBC shows offer a remarkable contrast. Let's compare Chris Matthews' giddy reaction to news of difficulties in the markets with Mika Brzezinski's gloom in begrudgingly discussing the Iraq surge's success.
The first portion of the video is from the opening of Hardball of September 15th, the day when news was breaking of Lehman and Merrill Lynch's travails, and the DJIA had sunk over 500 points. Matthews could hardly contain his glee, comparing McCain to Hoover, and declaring that because of the "terrible news" about the economy, "as of today, this is no longer an election about lipstick on pigs, misleading ads or how many houses a candidate owns. This is serious. The economy is a real issue. With real consequences." Then there was today's discussion on Morning Joe of the surge's success. Mika's pout—on view in the screencap—epitomizes her reaction. I commend the entire video clip to your attention, but would focus on these exchanges.
You'd think Chris Matthews would learn his lesson. First he insulted Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell as "showcase appointments," only to apologize for it later. Then, on Tuesday's "Hardball" he essentially called Sarah Palin an empty "vessel" with no "independent thinking" of her own, just "like a Clarence Thomas." [audio excerpt available here]
Matthews made the following gaffe during a discussion about Sarah Palin's readiness, on the September 16, "Hardball":
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Let me ask you Paul [Begala], because I know your politics. But is this a, like a Clarence Thomas where they wanted to pick an African-American for the Supreme Court so they picked the kind they wanted, which was in this case, a guy who was very conservative who hued to the, sort of the, the line of the conservative court. They have a person [Sarah Palin] here, who's apparently, to some extent, in terms of foreign policy, tabula rasa. Someone they can fill up with all this neo-conservative thinking, including vocabulary, apparently based upon her performance with Charlie, Charlie Gibson. Is that what they wanted, just sort of a vessel to sell and carry their product, rather than someone with independent thinking on foreign policy?
Chris Matthews spent most of Monday night's "Hardball," laying out a blueprint for how Barack Obama can hit John McCain on the economy, as he compared the GOP presidential nominee to Herbert Hoover.
Opening the September 15 show, Matthews greeted viewers with the following teaser:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Why is John McCain talking like Herbert Hoover? Depression or just depressing? Let's play "Hardball."...Did John McCain really mean to say the "fundamentals of the economy are strong?" Herbert Hoover, who presided over The Great Depression, said quote, "the economy is fundamentally sound." So is it fundamentally good politics to say, with the stock market plunging, that things are hunky-dory?
Then, in the first segment, Matthews kept pressing Sen. Charles Schumer about why Obama wasn't being more aggressive against McCain on the economy:
But, incredibly, on today's Meet the Press Tom Brokaw used Brazile's line to confront Rudy Giuliani over comments in his GOP convention speech about Obama's community organizing. Brokaw went so far as to display a button [screencap after jump] bearing the phrase. The MTP host might just as well have been wearing it.
On the September 12 edition of Hardball, Chris Matthews so twisted what Governor Sarah Palin said in reply to Charlie Gibson's question about Israel's defense decisions that her reply is hardly recognizable in Matthews' hands. By slyly adding his own additions to Gibson's question and Palin's reply, Matthews attempted to make Palin look naive on the foreign policy question. In essence, Matthews lied about what Palin said.
Matthews made a knot out of Palin's words, like taking a straw and tying it in a knot. It's still a straw, but it is no longer useful for what it was intended. With his underhanded additions to Palin's answer, Matthews made her words no longer fit the situation.
Chris Matthews spent the entirety of Wednesday night's "Hardball," debunking the idea that Barack Obama was referring to Sarah Palin, when he made his "lipstick on a pig," remark as the MSNBC host questioned if it "insults...everyone's intelligence?" But didn't Matthews insult his viewers' intelligence, on Monday, when he accused Palin and Rudy Giuliani of using coded racist language when they joked about Obama's experience as a "community organizer?"
At the top of Wednesday's show, Matthews invited on Republican strategist John Feehry and Democratic strategist Jenny Backus to discuss the topic, and hit Feehry hard, as he admitted to Backus: "I’m doing your job," and dismissed the "lipstick" controversy: "This is like Seinfeld, this is about nothing."
But on Monday's show Matthews, similarly, tried to make a big deal out of "nothing," when he saw racism in Palin and Giuliani using the words, "community organizer":
MATTHEWS: Rudy Giuliani got the biggest giggle out of that. And then, of course, Sarah, Sarah Palin did. They're giggling over the community organizer role as if it's, has, it carries more freight than just a job you once had. Is this the new "welfare queen?" Is this a new symbol, that we're talking about here?...Do you it has an ethnic piece, an urban piece even?
The following exchanges occurred on the September 10, "Hardball":
Yesterday on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, Ryan Lizza, Washington correspondent for The New Yorker magazine, was a guest. The topic turned to Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin:
LIZZA: Right, there are people who have views on abortion but they don’t vote on the abortion issue, right. Can I just say one thing on what you just asked Perry about? To me, this is the elephant in the room about Sarah Palin. I think there is a little reluctance from folks in the press to just say what is on everyone’s mind. That is do people feel comfortable with this woman serving as president at a time when we’re at war in two countries, when she’s been mayor of Alaska, one of the smallest state in America by population?
MATTHEWS: Has made one trip overseas in her life.
LIZZA: I think a lot of the press corps is a little bit reluctant to go there and to be honest about that, because, frankly, the McCain campaign has been very good at pushing back and working the refs on this issue.
As everyone knows, conservatives are a distinctly disagreeable bunch. Mean-spirited knuckle-draggers, pretty much. It's therefore a shock to come across one who's actually likeable. At least if you're Chris Matthews.
Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker, a guest on this evening's Hardball, observed that the Obama campaign hasn't quite decided how to go after Sarah Palin. The first line of attack was on the experience issue, but "now they're saying, OK, let's define her as a right-winger. You know, we'll talk about her views on creationism and some of these other extreme views." That elicited this from the Hardball host.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: She's got a lot of--they are pretty far over. For a person that seems very likeable and mellow, she doesn't look like a political zealot.
On Monday, Fox News's John Gibson gave credit to NewsBusters for the demotions of Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann from their positions as co-anchors of MSNBC's election and debate coverage.
On Sunday, MSNBC announced that NBC's David Gregory would be replacing them in this role, and that they would continue as on-air analysts.
The following day, Gibson, who is a staunch detractor of Matthews and Olbermann, took what he referred to as a "Victory Lap," and gave credit to a number of websites for their hard work in continually exposing the over-the-top bias regularly exhibited by this pair (audio available here courtesy our good friend Johnny Dollar, relevant section at 7:00):
The liberal campaign to seek to diminish Sarah Palin by sexualizing her continues. Yesterday, I described how Frank Rich used a number of sexualized terms in reference to Palin's relationship with McCain: "shotgun marriage," "speed-dating" and "embrace." Chris Matthews employed a similar tactic this evening, claiming that Palin is running "somewhere between a VP and a First Lady."
During the first segment of this evening's Hardball, Matthews tried out his theory, with no particular success, on pollster Stu Rothenberg and NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd. For the record, Matthews did stop short of telling Palin to iron McCain's shirt:
Chris Matthews, on Monday night's "Hardball," speculated that Republicans were playing the race card, when they made fun of Barack Obama's experience as a community organizer, even going as far to say they're using the phrase like a "bullwhip." In a segment with NBC's Chuck Todd and pollster Stuart Rothenberg, Matthews suspiciously noted that Republicans like Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani, at last week's GOP convention, were "giggling" over the "community organizer" title as he pondered: "Is this the new 'welfare queen?'"
Then a little later in the program, in a segment with the Financial Times' Chrystia Freeland and the Independent Women's Forum's Michelle Bernard, Matthews returned to the subject as he declared: "It seems to me that the use of the word, 'community organizer,' is almost like a bullwhip."
The following exchanges occurred on the September 8 edition of "Hardball" [audio excerpts available here]:
NewsBusters.org's parent company, the Media Research Center, today released the following statement from President L. Brent Bozell, III.:
Arch-liberal MSNBC has finally pulled the plug on the horrendous anchor tandem of Olbermann and Matthews. It's a good move, but it's about time. I wonder what it was that finally made them see the light?
In case you missed it, MSNBC has decided to replace its election coverage co-anchors Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann with David Gregory.
Having followed Matthews career since his days with the San Francisco Examiner, and watched his ascendence at CNBC and MSNBC resulting from the success of "Hardball," I wonder why he got the boot along with Olbermann.
After all, regardless of Matthews' clear liberal leaning, this disturbing leftward shift by MSNBC in recent years is certainly due to the success of Olbermann's "Countdown." NBC News and MSNBC officials have intimated such for months (continued below the fold, photo courtesy Wall Street Journal).
Were those evil Republicans attempting to carpet-bomb Andrea Mitchell with balloons at the RNC last night? Chris Matthews mused about the possibility on Hardball this afternoon. The footage of Andrea gamely batting away the balloons has received a lot of play. This morning, the Today show had fun with it. But Matthews seemed to conceive a more sinister scenario:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: If you were watching last night, here was a funny moment. I have to tell you: I love Andrea. Look at this crazy moment. For some reason: I don't know if it was foul play or what it was, a billion balloons went right into herwhen she was trying to do a report from the floor. She was getting absolutely buried in that post-speech balloon drop.
I wouldn't be surprised that if questioned on it Chris would claim he was kidding. But check out the video and see what you think. He sounded pretty sincere to me.
Just moments after MSNBC aired the Republican convention's video tribute to victims of 9/11, shown at about 8:40pm EDT Thursday night (September 4), Keith Olbermann offered this angry rebuke of his own network for doing so (CNN and PBS also aired it):
I'm sorry, it's necessary to say this and I wanted to separate myself from the others on the air about this. If at this late date, any television network had of its own accord showed that much videotape, and that much graphic videotape of 9/11, and I speak as somebody who lost a few friends there, it, we, would be rightly eviscerated at all quarters, perhaps by the Republican Party itself, for exploiting the memories of the dead and perhaps even for trying to evoke that pain again. If you reacted to that videotape the way I did, I apologize. It is a subject of great pain for many of us still and was probably not appropriate to be shown. We'll continue in a moment.
If a hypothetical tabloid owned by, say, Richard Mellon Scaife, had a cover story with scurrilous accusations about Joe Biden, do you think Chris Matthews would be waving it about on camera and Keith Olbermann citing it? Neither do I. But if for some reason they did, would they possibly fail to mention the mag's ownership?
But Matthews saw fit—not once but twice—to display the cover of Us magazine, with its story "Babies, Lies and Scandals" about Sarah Palin. Olbermann alluded to it as well. And who is the owner of Us? Jann Wenner, the founder of Rolling Stone . . . and a big-time donor to Barack Obama. How big a donor? You can view his list of contributions here, with an image after the jump.
Now it's true that Matthews discounted the "lies" allegation. But why give currency to dubious accusations—by a magazine whose stock-in-trade is celebrity gossip—by displaying them repeatedly on a national news show? There was no suggestion that Us, unlike the National Enquirer in John Edwards' case, had done any significant independent reporting. This is apparently scandal-mongering, pure and simple. And of course, neither Matthews nor Olbermann mentioned the Wenner connection.
On Friday’s Hardball on MSNBC, the day after he labeled Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice as "showcase appointments," Chris Matthews retracted his comment, chalking it up to a bad choice of words, as he contended that he should have called Powell and Rice "high-profile" appointments, rather than "showcase" appointments. Matthews: "I should have said 'high-level, high-profile' appointments. They were genuine appointments. They were not tokens." And, although Matthews did seem to demean Rice on Thursday by referring to her position of Secretary of State as a "nice title," Matthews on Friday used a different tone: "Nobody on Earth believes that Condoleezza Rice is not this President's chief foreign policy advisor. Or nobody challenges their ability. Personally, I love the guy, although I wish he'd had opposed the war, General Powell. So I used the wrong word. I should have said 'high-level, high-profile,' not 'showcase,' because some people took that as 'token.' And damn it, I certainly didn’t mean that."
During his normal "Hardball" program on MSNBC on Thursday evening, Chris Matthews asked Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison if the "Republican party platform is inclusive enough on the issue of reproductive or abortion rights." Hutchison, whose name has been floated as a possible vice-presidential nominee for John McCain, didn’t give a straight yes or no answer, and mentioned that in her view, "...both the Republican and the Democratic platform generally have areas that are not mainstreamed, and I don't think that you can agree with either platform in its entirety, and I think you just have to understand that a candidate’s views are going to prevail and I think people choose the candidate."
The blow-up that is occurring on MSNBC is beginning to draw attention from media members including the former co-anchor of the "CBS Evening News" Connie Chung who advised those involved in the on air squabbles to "just grow up!"
On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal published a recap of the skirmishes that NewsBusters has been reporting all week.
In a piece entitled "MSNBC Anchors' Fights Go Live," the Journal's Rebecca Dana sought out Chung's opinion of what's going on at her former network (emphasis added, h/t TVNewser, photo courtesy WSJ):
On Wednesday, NewsBusters asked: Is the hatred [Keith] Olbermann has been spewing on virtually a nightly basis beginning to take its toll on his fellow on air personalities presaging a looming uncivil war at MSNBC?
Amid a spate of awkward on-air conflicts among MNSBC anchors at this week’s Democratic convention, some staff members say there are sharp internal disputes at the cable network over whether its opinion and personality-driven political coverage has crossed the line.
“The situation at our channel is about to blow up,” a high-ranking MSNBC journalist told Politico on Wednesday.
As my colleague Mark Finkelstein reported Tuesday, MSNBC's Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann labelled long-time Hillary Clinton advisor Howard Wolfson a Tokyo Rose-like traitor due to his current affiliation with Fox News.
On Wednesday, during an interview with FNC's Martha MacCallum, Wolfson struck back by mentioning how unfortunate it is "that a news organization with a great tradition like NBC has been taken over by those kind of antics."
That was just the beginning (video embedded below the fold, h/t Johnny Dollar):
About 24 hours after dissing Joe Scarborough via an open microphone during Monday's coverage of the Democratic National Convention, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann took an insulting poke at partner Chris Matthews.
Wonderfully, Matthews didn't take it lying down.
This raises an important question: is the hatred Olbermann has been spewing on virtually a nightly basis beginning to take its toll on his fellow on air personalities presaging a looming uncivil war at MSNBC?
Consider that on Tuesday evening, after Matthews finished sharing his views concerning Hillary Clinton's upcoming speech, Olbermann arrogantly introduced House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) thusly (h/t TVNewser):