Apparently having a show on two different networks owned by NBC does not guarantee familiarity with voters. Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s “Hardball” and NBC’s “The Chris Matthews Show” has hinted at a run for Arlen Specter’s Senate seat in 2010 as reported by Mark Finkelstein here.
A Quinnipiac University poll of Pennsylvanians found that 55 percent of voters “say they don’t know enough to have an impression of him (Matthews)” as reported in the August 5 edition of Politico’s The Scorecard blog, which can be found here. The same poll found that 28 percent hold a favorable view of Matthews while 15 percent look unfavorably on the “thrilled” Hardball host.
Be with you in a sec. Gotta finish this bag of Cheetos. Man, what a mess down here in Mom's basement. Let's see, where were we? Barnicle. Right. Bloggers. Doesn't think much of us. On this evening's Hardball, decrying the decline of bi-partisanship, Barnicle put much of the blame on the blogosphere.
Subbing for Chris Matthews, Barnicle had as his guest historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. The jumping off point was a clip of Obama saying he could imagine naming McCain as his head of Homeland Security. Barnicle wondered whether that was feasible in what he sees as a hyper-partisan age, and pointed the finger largely at bloggers. Kearns Goodwin suggested that despite the difficulties, she could imagine either of the candidates reaching out to his opponent. That prompted Barnicle to let loose on bloggers, casting them as largely a bunch of loons with too much time on their hands.
Filling in yesterday for Chris Matthews on MSNBC's Hardball, Mike Barnicle showed what an understanding, compassionate fellow he can be:
We have some sad news to report this evening. Columnist Bob Novak has announced he has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. He is retiring from the “Chicago Sun Times” to focus on his treatment and recovery. Bob Novak, despite your ideology, is a terrific guy, a good friends of ours. We certainly wish him all the best.
Novak is widely viewed as a conservative. Yet, despite that, he's still a terrific guy in Barnicle's opinion. Apparently, being a conservative and a terrific guy are mutually exclusive most of the time.
Chris Matthews must be reassured. His show's in good hands with Barnicle.
There's no current wisdom more conventional than that which has Hillary Clinton entirely out of the veepstakes. Take the opening of yesterday's Hardball, for example, with Mike Barnicle sitting in for Chris Matthews.
MIKE BARNICLE: It didn't get much notice in the media and it didn't show up in any newspaper obituary pages, but the idea of a Democratic ticket of Obama and Hillary Clinton died a very quiet death this week. How did the dream-team ticket disappear so fast and so quietly?
Introducing a later segment, Barnicle displayed a statement from a group that had been pushing the idea of Hillary for veep now saying that it's abandoned its effort "because it seems that Senator Obama has made his decision to offer the slot on the ticket to another candidate." The subsequent schmoozefest with Dem consultant Steve McMahon and Air America honcho Mark Green took it as a given that Hillary would not be the VP candidate, focusing instead on what other role she might play in the campaign.
You might say nothing could be more unsurprising than a panel of political pundits admitting the obvious: that Barack Obama is playing the race card when he accuses John McCain of saying the Dem candidate "doesn’t look like the other presidents on the currency."
But what makes the punditry panel's unanimity notable is that no one would accuse them of being McCain backers, and what's more, that they turned up on Hardball. Surely Chris Matthews, were he not on vacation, would have found one diehard to deny reality. But with Mike Barnicle guest-hosting, a consensus of truth-telling broke out.
Barnicle began by playing a clip of McCain, interviewed by CNN's John King, saying that it is legitimate to accuse Obama of having played the race card. The video is worth viewing if only to watch McCain end the interview by shaking a surprised King's hand and walking away. Then the panel commented. Perry Bacon of the Washington Post said he would decline to answer directly, but his answer left no real doubt as to his view.
Mike Barnicle went into hyper-sensitive mode on Wednesday night's "Hardball," as the substitute host feared the McCain campaign was questioning Barack Obama's citizenship, simply because a McCain ad placed the words "foreign oil," right next to Obama's face.
Barnicle did pull back a bit, as he asked if he was "overreacting," but his initial reaction to the ad was reminiscent of the New York Times' claiming the word, "Rats" popped up in a GOP ad back in 2000.
The following exchange occurred on the July 30 edition of "Hardball:"
MIKE BARNICLE: You know we sit here in living rooms and dens across America and these ads come beamed across and you sort of, half pay attention to them. I think a lot of people just half pay attention to 'em. But there's an element in that ad, right toward the end of the ad where it has Obama's face up and the word "foreign," next to it with "more foreign oil." There it is, it's right there on the screen now.
In the midst of a campaign in which conservatives fret John McCain is missing opportunities by staying to the left on too many issues, Chrystia Freeland, the U.S. Managing Editor of the Financial Times based in London, declared “extremely imprudent” the conservative desire for John McCain to make a commitment against raising taxes. On Tuesday's Hardball she saw the “hard right,” not politicians unwilling to stick to a pledge, as the problem:
The first President Bush did not fare very well when he made that absolutely firm, clear campaign pledge not to raise taxes. So, you know, I think that in a way, the biggest problem John McCain is facing in this campaign is the hard right of his own party, which is trying to pin him into positions that are not really very realistic right now.
Her comment came after fill-in host Mike Barnicle read a statement from the Club for Growth rebuking McCain for saying that raising the Social Security tax is not “off the table.” Barnicle posed this leading question to her: “Can any sane politician, Chrystia, make an adamant, set in stone statement given the fact that we're a country at war with an energy crisis -- about never raising any tax under any circumstances?” She agreed “it would be extremely imprudent” to do so given the “dire economic situation the United States is facing right now.”
Q. How can Scott McClellan tell he's pushed his turncoat trip a tad too far?
A. When even leading media liberals suggest his reputation's in tatters.
Say what you will, but I like Joan Walsh, editor of Salon.com. Liberal? No doubt. But also a grownup. On this evening's Hardball, Walsh had the integrity to acknowledge that by accusing Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly of regurgitating Bush White House talking points, McClellan was looking "worse for wear."
Sitting in for Chris Matthews, Mike Barnicle [who I must say does a more "fair 'n balanced" job than the regular guy] rolled video from the this past Friday's show in which McClellan leveled his accusation.
Between now and Election Day, we're sure to see—and chronicle at NB—plenty of MSM sycophancy for Barack Obama. But between the thrills going up assorted media legs, evidence is emerging that some in the media are beginning to assess the Dem candidate in a clearer light. Take for example, Gabriel Sherman's piece at the New Republic which as its title—End of the Affair—suggests, has as its thesis that at least for some of its members, the MSM's puppy-love stage might be coming to an end.
Today comes Howard Fineman's admission, hesitant as it might be, and mitigated by his suggestion that Obama came close to hitting an absolute home run with his European trip, that yes, well, after all, the guy is—how can I put this?—arrogant.
Newsweek's senior DC correspondent was a guest on this afternoon's Hardball, with Mike Barnicle sitting in for Chris Matthews. The jumping off point was Obama's cancellation of his plans to visit injured American troops in Germany.
Appearing on the Monday, July 21, Tonight Show, MSNBC host Chris Matthews defended his declaration from last February that a Barack Obama speech caused him to feel a "thrill going up my leg," and suggested he really is not biased in the presidential race as he contended that "I’m a freaking American" and "who I’m rooting for" is "us." Referring to Obama having "seen on both sides of that San Andreas Fault of race in this country," Matthews effused that Obama was "inspiring." Matthews: "I was inspired by it, and I said so at the time, and I took some heat for it, but I’d rather be honest and say what I feel ...You know, I mean, I'm a freaking American. I do have a reaction to things, and I do react emotionally to my country. I care about this country. I want to look out for it. It's my job. I'm not just some umpire. You know, I take a side: Us. That's who I'm rooting for." Video of Matthews' "thrill" comment from February 12 can be found here.
But after seeming to claim that he was not cheering for either candidate, as he discussed the expected closeness of the election, Matthews focused on his fear that many 70- and 80-year-olds will be "suspicious of change," which sounds like a reference to Obama, as he advised the elderly to "think like your kids for once." Matthews: "I hope one thing. When people go to vote, they look at the guy's background, they look at the age of the two candidates, they look at their abilities and really open up their hearts and say what's really good for my kids, who don't have any color awareness. Kids don't think about that, race. Think like your kids for once. Think the way they think. It would be great if the older people in the country, the 70-year-olds, the 80-year-olds who are suspicious of change, to say, ‘You know, why don't I think the way my kids are thinking and think about the future?’ Whatever they decide, just open up your heart to this prospect of something different. That's what I hope we do." (Transcript follows)
The screencap captures it nicely: Heather Wilson, smiling. Robert Wexler, mouth agape. On this afternoon's Hardball, the feisty, brilliant [bio: high honors Air Force Academy grad, Rhodes Scholar] GOP representative from New Mexico took on the duo of the combative congressman from Florida and host Chris Matthews, and walked away a winner. The subject was Obama's Berlin speech, and by extension his presidential qualifications.
You'll find excerpts below, but they don't do begin to do justice to Wilson's brio and the coolness under verbal fire she displayed. That's why I'd strongly encourage readers to view the video. Wilson kicked off her tour de force in commenting on a clip of Obama in his Berlin speech proclaiming that various walls, including one between American and Europe, "cannot stand" and must be torn down.
Barack Obama is still giving Chris Matthews thrills. On Thursday night's "Hardball," before throwing to an Obama clip, Matthews gave the following rave review, on his July 24 show, to the Illinois senator's speech in Germany:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: What, what do you make of this? Let's take another bite here because it was quite a speech. You have to judge for yourself but the speech had its thrill factor, certainly once again. Here he was.
However Matthews wasn't in such a jovial mood near the end of the program.
Apparently it's not just the American press corp that has fallen head over heels for Barack Obama. On Wednesday night's "Hardball," NBC News' Martin Fletcher revealed the quote that "went rushing around the media" in Israel was that a Shimon Peres female assistant remarked of Obama, "What a hunk!"
When asked by MSNBC host Chris Matthews, on the July 23 "Hardball," to give his assessment of the media coverage given to Obama in Israel, Fletcher dropped the following nugget:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Let me ask you Martin for a final question there, as Barack Obama leaves the Middle East. What's the general assessment of the people over there, in terms of news coverage? Has he shown himself to be a commander-in-chief, potentially?
When a writer for the New York Times questions his own paper, for refusing to publish an editorial by John McCain, and a former Clinton press secretary questions the "balance" of the coverage of Obama’s foreign tour, you know the media has reached a bias tilting point.
On Tuesday night's "Hardball," New York Times political writer John Harwood said of the Times decision to spike a McCain editorial: "I was surprised that they did not take it, especially having just run Barack Obama."
And former Bill Clinton press secretary, Dee Dee Myers, called the press coverage of Obama overseas, "extraordinary" and admitted: "It’s legitimate question. Is the press coverage between the two candidates balanced?"
The following segment occurred on the July 22, "Hardball:"
For years Chris Matthews has been proclaiming defeat in Iraq, on an almost nightly basis, on "Hardball" but on Tuesday night he finally admitted the success of the surge that John McCain supported. However, the MSNBC host claimed it would be Barack Obama that would get to enjoy the spoils.
After Newsweek's Howard Fineman suggested, "We're not losing," and pointed out the surge success would make it easier for a troop pullout, Matthews admitted the following:
MATTHEWS: Senator McCain wanted the surge to work, it worked politically and Barack Obama is the beneficiary. Not exactly the right development, politically, for him.
Matthews began the segment by playing a clip of McCain criticizing Obama on the war but then wondered if the Republican presidential nominee, "should take it back?"
The following is the full exchange as it occurred on the July 22, "Hardball":
Andrea Mitchell might be a doyenne of the liberal media, but she has her reporter's pride and principles, which have been trampled by the way the Obama campaign has managed the media during the candidate's current trip to Afghanistan and Iraq. Mitchell let loose on this evening's Hardball, speaking of "fake interviews," and decrying that she was unable to report on pertinent aspects of the trip because the media has been excluded and that the video released is unreliable because it's impossible to know what has been edited out.
Before Mitchell made her displeasure known, Roger Simon of Politico, Chris Matthews's other guest during the segment, depicted the images coming out of the war zone as all Obama could have dreamed of.
ROGER SIMON: The optics are all very good on this trip. I mean, the beginning of this trip is so good, Senator Obama might just want to call off the end and just keep running the videotape.
Once again MSNBC president Phil Griffin is claiming that his cable outlet is not liberal on purpose. (I know what you're saying, if you believe that he has a bridge to sell you) In an interview with a TV reviewer for the Kansas City Star, Griffin once again made the claim that the extreme leftward tilt that MSNBC has taken over the last few years was a complete accident and that they aren't "tied to ideology" like Fox News is. Griffin also attacked Fox News saying that, "you can't trust a word they say."
It all started when Aaron Barnhart of the Star asked Griffin for his reaction to statements made by Fox News executive John Moody who said that MSNBC only gained their current market share because of the "messianic ranting" of its anchors, Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews. This set Griffin off at the outset of the interview.
What if someone gave a war & Nobody came? Life would ring the bells of Ecstasy and Forever be Itself again. -- from"Graffiti," poem by Allen Ginsberg .
Maybe so. But what of the converse? What if someone sued for peace but the enemy didn't go along? That was the gist of General David Petraeus's observation today on the Obama withdrawal plan. Petraeus made his comments in the course of an interview with Andrea Mitchell, in Baghdad. A clip of the interview was aired on this evening's Hardball, with Mike Barnicle sitting in for Chris Matthews.
MIKE BARNICLE: Andrea, earlier today, you had an interview with General David Petraeus, and I'd like to play a clip of it when you asked General Petraeus about Obama's 16-month plan, and here was his response to you.
DAVID PETRAEUS: It depends on the conditions; depends on the mission set. It depends on the enemy. The enemy does get a vote and is sometimes an independent variable. Lots of different factors, I think, that would be tied up in that and the dialogue on that, and the amount of risk. Because it eventually comes down to how much risk various options entail. That's the kind of discussion I think that is very important as we do look to the future.
Greta Van Susteren is quickly becoming one of Fox News's most ardent defenders against attacks from the ultra-left.
Writing about Netroots Nation -- the gathering in Austin, Texas, of the most liberal people in America -- Greta bashed her former network CNN as well as MSNBC, Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, and all those in attendance.
Fasten those seatbelts tightly, for Greta, in a blog posting Friday morning, wasn't taking prisoners (emphasis added, h/t TVNewser, photo courtesy FNC):
I have my issues with Pat Buchanan. Anyone who writes a book arguing we should have found a modus vivendi with Hitler isn't necessarily high on my list. Still, when it comes to spot-on analysis of the political scene, Pat is without peer. But when Buchanan—his own opposition to the Iraq war notwithstanding—argued on this evening's Hardball that McCain's support for the surge is a winning issue for him, it drove Chris Matthews into such a frenzy he was reduced to a reality-defying scream that the surge isn't working.
Air America's Mark Green was along for the bumpy ride. An extended clip was rolled of McCain at a town hall in New Mexico saying that he knows how to win wars, that Obama was wrong to oppose the surge, and that he McCain will build on the Iraq experience to lead us to success in Afghanistan.
On Monday's "Hardball" Chris Matthews was so upset about the New Yorker's cover, depicting Barack Obama in a turban and Michelle Obama toting an AK-47, because he feared "the right will be using that as t-shirt material within the next couple of weeks."
Matthews, along with The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza and the Atlantic Media's Ronald Brownstein also insulted all the non-New Yorker subscribers who didn't get the joke as unsophisticated, or as Lizza put it, "a little slow."
The following exchanges occurred on the July 14 edition of "Hardball:"
If there's one person in the NBC news stable who combines solid analytical skills with a commitment to fairness, it could be political director Chuck Todd. Evidence thereof comes from no less a certified conservative source than Tom DeLay. Appearing on this evening's Hardball just after Todd had offered his breakdown of the electoral map, DeLay allowed that he "can't dispute" any of Todd's analysis, prompting Chris Matthews to exclaim "that's a development for us here: objective truth for you!"
So what was that Todd analysis that DeLay didn't dispute? There was much to it, but for present purposes let's focus on this: Todd can't see how Obama wins without Pennsylvania, and that having former governor Tom Ridge on the McCain ticket would help deliver the Keystone State. The catch is that Ridge is pro-choice, which in turn poses the question of whether pro-life Republicans would revolt if McCain chose him for the veep slot.
You'd think Chris Matthews might wish Howard Wolfson well on the news that the former top aide to Hillary Clinton has joined Fox News as a Dem analyst. Think again. The Hardball host has ungraciously predicted that the move to Fox could spell the end of Wolfson—and in doing so revealed his own pop-culture roots.
Here was Matthews on this evening's Hardball:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Fox News loves presenting itself as the alternative to the other news networks. Roger Ailes, the guy behind the network, figures that the Hillary campaign needs a new home, now that she's out of the race for president. So, abracadabra, Howard Wolfson, the voice of the Hillary campaign, has just been hired by—you guessed it—Fox News. Wolfson has just signed a contract as a regular contributor. He told the New York Times, quote, "it is important to have a strong progressive voice on the network." Well I think it's the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Reminds me of a movie: it's called Howards End.
What do you do when you just can't win your ratings time slot? Answer: Cook the books. That's what MSNBC tried to do regarding "Hardball with Chris Matthews" and the 5:00pm slot:
CNN and Fox News Channel both pointed out Tuesday that MSNBC included special coverage of Tim Russert’s death and memorial in its June data ratings for Hardball With Chris Matthews – prompting MSNBC to say it made an error.
The flap was over a press release that MSNBC issued, based on Nielsen data, with the headline “MSNBC’s ‘Hardball’ No. 1 Among Adults in June at 5 p.m.”
See Bonus Video at foot: Mika Victimized by Retching Rover!
In polite liberal circles, Ralph Nader's suggestion that Barack Obama "wants to talk white" and avoid appearing like another Jesse Jackson is infra dig. Take, for example, Joan Walsh's reaction on yesterday's Hardball. Said the editor of Salon.com:
I don't think that racism is too strong a word for what he said.
Added NY Times columnist Bob Herbert:
It's a lousy, reprehensible comment.
But as uncomfortable as Nader's statement might make some people, could there be a kernel of truth to it? Joe Scarborough seems to think so. And even Prof. Michael Dyson—Obama fan and commentator on matters racial—seemed to acknowledge that "ghetto-speak" would hurt Barack, going so far as to imitate the kind of street accent that could damage the candidate's campaign.
If we're going to promote a candid discussion of race in our country, we can't jump down the throat of everyone who ventures onto the racial minefield. Rather than finding offense in Roger Simon's suggestion that choosing Bobby Jindal as his VP running-mate would hurt John McCain among racist voters, I propose we simply analyze it. Here's what Simon said on this evening's Hardball, as guest host Mike Barnicle led the Politico reporter and Newsweek's Howard Fineman through a tour d'horizon of possible VP picks.
MIKE BARNICLE: Interesting new Republican face, Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana.
ROGER SIMON: Interesting. Young. Very young, almost too young to run, not quite, he gets over the constitutional limit. But I gotta raise the delicate subject: if you're John McCain, and you know that you're going to get an 'x' percentage of votes based on race, do you pick a dark-skinned vice-presidential candidate, who some people are going to say–wrongly—is black, is a Hindu converted to Catholicism, who's an Indian-American? You know, none of that should matter in American politics, but is it a safe choice, or is it a choice that is going to get everybody chattering? I think McCain is going to go for a safer choice than that.
When Georgia Republicans ran an ad against former Senator Max Cleland, which included a photograph of Osama bin Laden, attacking the Democratic Senator's numerous votes to apply labor union rules to the Homeland Security Department, liberals were outraged as they claimed the ad was an attack on the "patriotism" of war hero Cleland. MSNBC host Keith Olbermann expressed outrage by mentioning the attack on Cleland several times in the last few years as he claimed that Cleland was "cut down," "sandbagged," "blindsided," "cheap shotted," "mugged," "hamstrung," and subjected to a "hatchet job," in part because of the inclusion of the bin Laden photograph.
But Olbermann himself recently employed a photograph of Osama bin Laden as he teased a story contending that "John McCain's top guy [Phil Gramm] on the economy made it easier for bin Laden," and charging that Gramm was "on the side of the terrorists' bankers before and after 9/11." The MSNBC host has also accused McCain of "betraying" U.S. troops, and has suggested that McCain does not "understand [the] risk and sacrifice" of U.S. troops serving in Iraq, and that he has "abandoned" them. He even went so far as to suggest that McCain has ulterior motives for supporting an extended U.S. presence in Iraq because he supports "war-profiteering" by U.S. firms who would benefit. And Olbermann once mocked McCain as "awol" during as Senate vote because he was at a fund-raiser "supporting himself instead of the troops." (Transcripts follow)
Chris Matthews was not happy and seemed overly sensitive when John McCain compared Barack Obama to his old boss Jimmy Carter. On Tuesday night's "Hardball," after Matthews played a clip of McCain saying Obama was running for "Carter's second" term, he declared "I don't like it," and tried to write the attack off by saying not enough voters "even remembered voting for the guy."
The following exchanges occurred throughout the June 10 edition of "Hardball":
JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC: Look John McCain has a more complicated task because he's got to try to discredit Obama but also say he's not gonna be like George Bush either. And I think the difficulty of this task is highlighted by, you look at the examples, Barack Obama is saying John McCain would be George Bush's third term and McCain comes back with Jimmy Carter. Well you know there are a lot of voters out there saying, "And who was Jimmy Carter exactly?" They don't remember that.
Chris Matthews put the choice before voters in 2008 in the starkest terms possible on Tuesday's "Hardball" as he claimed a vote for McCain was akin to staying on a sinking Titanic and a vote for Obama was a chance at "deliverance."
CHRIS MATTHEWS OPENING SHOW: You're on this big comfortable ocean liner and it's starting to sink. Do you board the little life boat or stay on the big ship with the light still shining, the band still playing? You're the American voter, the year is 2008 and you've got till November to decide. Let's play Hardball!