How often do you watch a show like MSNBC’s “Hardball” just hoping that one of the guests will spank the host when he makes an obvious misstatement, or is just being rude? Well, such occurred Wednesday when David Shuster, filling in for the vacationing Chris Matthews, tried to bully Iraq’s ambassador to the United Nations Feisal Istrabadi
Right from the get-go, it was apparent that Shuster had no intention of showing any respect whatsoever to this dignitary, which of course was in stark contrast to how he gushed and fawned over former President Jimmy Carter just 24 hours earlier as reported by Mark Finkelstein. This is not to suggest that anyone should be accorded the respect of one of our former presidents. Instead, it was the comparative disrespect which was so striking; it was almost as if Istrabadi was a Republican.
Toward the end of the interview, it was clear that the Ambassador was getting tired of Shuster’s belligerence, and decided to fire back when the guest-host said:
Is MSNBC a liberal network? Just ask Chris Matthews, who let Al Franken whack John Fund around on "Hardball" last night, telling Fund his "buddies" in the GOP are "crooks." While Fund took offense at the personal attacks, Matthews treated it like part of Franken's stand-up routine. At the segment's end, though, Matthews oozed all over Franken's performance: "Please come back, Al. You've been doing a lot of homework, and I think you got a 'head of the class.' Very well done. I'm not sarcastic. It’s great. Thank you, Al, for coming on."
Fund never responded to the joke-slash-personal attack with the obvious line: Franken, the guy whose buddies at Air America were ripping off the Boys and Girls Clubs to pay his multi-million-dollar salary, making crook jokes? Of course, if he had, Matthews probably would have done a full Malkin on him, and told him he didn't put up with personal attacks....
As John Murtha appeared as a guest on Wednesday's Hardball, MSNBC host Chris Matthews questioned the Democratic Congressman about the infamous FBI tape from the ABSCAM scandal in which undercover FBI agents talked with Murtha about the possibility of bribery, with Murtha having suggested to them the possibility that he would be "interested" at a later date. After pressing Murtha on what his words meant with Murtha contending that he was just trying to acquire investment for his Congressional district, Matthews ended up asking him if it was "just a way of finessing your way out of the conversation," to which Murtha agreed before Matthews dropped the line of questioning. (Transcript follows)
It looks like MSNBC and Chris Matthews hit their target "demographic" of liberal Democrats on Election Night. On last night's Hardball, MSNBC's Chris Matthews revealed his friend at the Democratic Party headquarters told him MSNBC was "on all night there." Matthews then proudly exclaimed: "That is great news in terms of us reaching the important demographics, of course." NBC News producer Mike Viquiera, who was at the party, said they rotated "between two of the three cable networks and I'm not gonna tell you which of the third networks that they didn't rotate to." To which Matthews asserted: "I think we're probably the one in the middle...politically."
Winding up the 8pm EST hour of election coverage on MSNBC, “Scarborough Country” host Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman from Florida, indignantly lectured Chris Matthews about how he has “spent the past two years trying my best to be very critical of my party. In fact, if you look at my transcripts you will see that I have been bashing my party more than the Democratic party because I want to make sure that I am fair and down the middle.”
So “far and down the middle” means hitting Republicans harder than Democrats? Too bad Matthews, a former staffer to Democratic President Jimmy Carter and Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill, doesn’t routinely attack Democrats to prove how “fair and down the middle” he is.
Chris Matthews just couldn't wipe that grin off his face. Interviewing him on this morning's 'Today,' Meredith Vieira began by suggesting that despite the tough electoral environment for Republicans, polls over the weekend were showing movement in their direction. She started to pose a question, but so distracting was Matthews' mugging that she couldn't continue, asking instead "why are you smiling?"
"Because I think it's going to be a wipe-out. I think the Democrats are going to carry the House by 20-some, high-20s and I think the Senate seats are perhaps not six, but five, and I can see a big victory for the Democrats."
Here's an antidote from an unlikely corner for all the Dem outrage at the 'November surprise' of the Saddam verdict. On this morning's 'Today,' none other than Chris Matthews just pronounced his considered opinion that the verdict actually helps . . . the Democrats.
According to Matthews, given the unpopularity of the war, anything that draws attention to Iraq hurts Republicans. Apparently that even extends to a good-news story such as the Saddam verdict. Opined Matthews to host Lester Holt:
"One general rule would be anything that brings attention to Iraq is bad for the Republicans. I think Iraq's become a four-letter word for the voter. And this trial and condemnation of Saddam Hussein is probably going to remind us of Iraq again. It's probably going to help the Democrats to some extent."
The MSM troops have begun to rally around their man.
Interviewing Ted Kennedy on MSNBC, Chris Matthews referred to the controversy over Kerry's comments as a 'brouhaha' and a 'rhubarb'. Kennedy was of course only too happy to agree, calling the controversy a "diversion" and even casting Kerry as the victim, claiming he is the "target of Republicans" reacting to his criticism of the war.
A bit later in the hour, Matthews flatly claimed that Kerry only meant to say that Bush hadn't studied enough before he became president and thus got us into a mess in Iraq, and later still:
With just a little over a week to go NBC's Today show is cranking up the anti-Bush sentiment and this morning Meredith Vieira and Chris Matthews hammered how Republicans are running away from the President. After NBC's Kelly O'Donnell aired a full report on how Bush is showing up in ads everywhere for Democrats but not for Republicans, Vieira asked MSNBC's Hardball host Matthews to break down the midterms which just allowed Matthews to go on his typical anti-Iraq war tear:
Meredith Vieira: "I know you heard Kelly O'Donnell's report, the President now being featured in more than 160 ads for Democratic candidates. Do you think the strategy is gonna work?"
When it comes to using Mafia references for political purposes, Chris Matthews has a one-way sense of outrage. OK for slurring Republicans. Bad, bad, bad when used against Dems.
Matthews is the king of MSM conniption fits over Republican ads. He pounded for days on the RNC ad about Harold Ford, Jr., accusing RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman of "cesspool" tactics and claiming the ad played to white fears of "losing white women to black guys."
Matthews had a similar over-the-top reaction to an ad [see it here] running in NJ that uses a mobbed-up character to mock ethically-challenged Bob Menendez. Here's how Stephen Spruiell at National Review's Media Blog noted Matthews reaction:
"Well maybe because I've spent so much of my life in New Jersey... but you know, I have to tell you Charlie, it's an ethnic ad. Whatever else it is, it's an ethnic ad. It's about Italians in New Jersey, it's about the mob. Tying Menendez into Torricelli. They're closing the loop, they're making their point, and that has been politics in that state for years, between the WASPy people like Christie Todd Whitman and the Keans, father and son, running against the ethnic people, they tied it all together: If you're ethnic, you're a crook, right?"
All that was missing was the theme music from Deliverance. Not content to condemn George Allen for raising the issue of Jim Webb's racy writing, Chris Matthews decided on this evening's Hardball to slur the entire Commonwealth of Virginia south of the DC suburbs.
Interviewing senior Webb campaign advisor Steve Jarding [Chris did indicate that he had unsuccessfully tried to get an Allen representative on the show], Matthews had this to say:
"Not to take sides but they've had this material since the day Jim Webb announced, and they've chosen to use it now with the risk that it implies, because everybody in Northern Virginia, in this area of the country, reads books, they think."
With the elections getting very close, Chris Matthews appears even more rabid, if that's possible. Recently, he's taken to speaking for others. Not just for other liberals, but for everyone everywhere.
Last night's "Hardball" offered an example of this. The topic was the political ads Michael J. Fox is doing for Democrats around the country. There's considerable controversy - and misunderstanding - about what Rush Limbaugh said about Fox's ads and the entire question of Federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.
For Matthews, however, there's no room for disagreement as the facts speak for themselves:
"Everybody likes Michael J. Fox and nobody agrees with Rush Limbaugh that he was faking it or went off his meds to do a good show."
Everybody likes Michael J. Fox? Nobody agrees with Rush Limbaugh?
MSNBC's Chris Matthews invited the Dixie Chicks on last night's Hardball to promote the new documentary Shut Up and Sing and asked them if they felt their anti-Iraq position has been vindicated, to which the Chicks responded in martyred terms of being put on Free Republic's and "Christian fundamentalist" country fans' "hate list."
The following exchange occurred on the October 26th edition of Hardball:
Chris Matthews: "Martie, I get the feeling at the time that you folks, when you made that statement and you all stood behind it and took the heat for it, that the country world out there and country music was definitely for the war. I mean, I think of Toby Keith singing that song, 'Remember How You Felt' which is basically a pitch that if you didn't like 9/11 you had to like Iraq, that they were basically lining up and saying this was a smart thing for the U.S. to do. It turns out most Americans all over the country think it's not a smart thing that we did."
On last night's Hardball, Chris Matthews hinted at what he had in mind regarding the ad the RNC ran in Tennessee about Dem senatorial candidate Harold Ford, Jr. Claimed Chris:
"It has ethnic overtones, sexual overtones."
Tonight, Matthews took an ugly, explicit leap down into the atavistic mud. Interviewing Sen. Dick Durbin [D-IL] - who was relatively reserved in his comments - Matthews began by asserting that the RNC's goal in running the ad was to "get their point across to perhaps angry white voters, or people who had a problem with a black senator already."
Later, Matthews embraced the absolutely worst stereotype of a racist South, claiming the RNC was:
"playing on white sensitivities about losing white women to black guys. It was so obvious what they were doing there."
Referring to an RNC ad as the "Mehlman cesspool," Chris Matthews was being non-partisan. Really - he told us so!
On this afternoon's Hardball, Matthews interviewed Rep. Harold Ford, Jr., Dem candidate for senator from Tennessee. The first topic up was an ad the RNC is currently running using actors to tweak Ford on his positions on a variety of issues, from taxes to gun control to North Korea. The ad also alludes to the fact that Ford attended a Playboy party at the Super Bowl in Jacksonville in 2005.
At the ad's end, an alluring woman saying she met Harold at a Playboy party whispers "Harold, call me!"
Democrats have been quick to cry that the use of a white woman is an insidious appeal to racism. Matthews wasted no time sounding the Dems' battle cry:
On last night’s Hardball, Bill Clinton was depicted as a unifying "Moses"-like figure while Karl Rove was portrayed as a divisive "evil genius." In describing Bill Clinton on a campaign stop at Georgetown University, NBC’s Kevin Corke used biblical terms: "It was as if Moses himself had returned. Former President Bill Clinton, the man some believe could figure prominently in helping to lead Democrats back to the political promised land, was back at his alma mater, Georgetown, for a major speech this week."
And then later in the program the Washington Post's John Harris, painted Clinton's politics as a "unifying" but Bush’s, specifically, Karl Rove’s politics as "divisive" as he and Hardball host, Chris Matthews wondered what the "evil genius," had "up his sleeve."
NBC's efforts to reestablish itself have gone poorly, and its cable network MSNBC is still stuck in last place. Execs are considering putting MSNBC's two biggest stars, Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews, on business channel CNBC, and using the rest of MSNBC for taped programming about "murder mysteries" and similar tabloid material. From Broadcasting and Cable:
NBC Universal employees are bracing for the worst as Chairman-CEO Bob Wright and NBC U TV Group CEO Jeff Zucker are convening town hall meetings in Los Angeles and New York for what is expected to be news of restructuring and job cuts.
Sources say Wright will appear on the Universal Studios lot near Burbank on Thursday while Zucker holds a similar meeting with East Coast employee in New York. NBC press reps were not available at press time.
There's nothing the MSM loves more than a renegade Republican. The GOP maverick-of-the-MSM-week is David Kuo. He is the former #2 man in the Bush administration's Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, and has written a book, Tempting Faith, claiming that the operation was a cynical attempt to woo faith-based voters whom top aides including Karl Rove looked at contemptuously.
Chris Matthews predictably had Kuo on this afternoon's Hardball. At one point, Matthews asked whether President Bush has "used faith to get votes" and then "how about the issues like stem cell - do you think he's using them politically?"
"I think you're conflagrating a couple of different things here."
On this afternoon's 'Hardball,' interviewing James Baker about his new book on a life in politics, Matthews alluded to the risk of a political party fracturing in the course of a presidential primary campaign:
"How do you hold your party together when you have people, secular candidates like John McCain who's often in that [guest] chair, and Rudy Giuliani running against Brownback, and people like that, Frist and George Allen perhaps, who are real cultural conservatives?"
Riposted Baker: "We hold it together the same way that you hold your party together."
Interjected Matthews: "Well, it's not my party anymore."
"Didn't the MSM get the memo? Keep Foley on the front page!" That seemed to be Chris Matthews' attitude when he was interviewed on this afternoon's MSNBC Live regarding Pres. Bush's press conference of this morning.
Appearing during the 2-2:30 PM ET slot, the transparently ticked-off Hardball host was asked: "The Mark Foley scandal has been dominating the news for over a week now. It was barely touched upon in the news conference today. Was the president, do you think, successful in refocusing attention on to the economy and national security today?"
A palpably PO'd Matthews:
"Well, he was successful to a large extent because the press, for whatever reason, decided not to ask him about the Foley scandal, which has dominated this network and so much else of the media for the last couple weeks and has been a big part of the American conversation. I don't know why though the correspondents - and they're the best in the business - chose to stick right to the issue of Iraq and North Korea, but they did, giving the president a chance to grab the headline tomorrow morning and tonight, with a big story about North Korea and his position on that topic. He has won the day on controlling the topic."
The show bills itself as 'Hardball.' But in surrounding himself with regulars who are either certified liberals or renegade Republicans, doesn't Chris Matthews prove himself to be a softy, unwilling or unable to take the high heat from true-blue Republican flamethrowers?
Let me say something that might surprise some NewsBusters readers and dismay others. I like Matthews. Not that conservatives are the arbiters of patriotism, but I do consider Chris someone who loves his country and, as misguided as he may be on various policy issues - has its best interests at heart. He's no Keith Olbermann.
That said, although he professes not to be a partisan and will speak to Democrats about "your" - not "our" - party, there can be little doubt that his rooting interest hasn't changed much since the days he was a top aide to Tip.
Late on Friday night's edition of MSNBC's "Hardball," former Bush administration aide Ron Christie, author of "Black in the White House," pressed host Chris Matthews on the suggestion that if Republican Sen. George Allen's alleged racial slurs in the 1970s are a character flaw, what about the Democrats re-electing Senator Robert Byrd, a former Klansman, this fall? Matthews protested in a lecturing tone that "everyone knows about it....It's been raised a thousand times on his record." After claiming he was not defending Byrd, he told Christie: "The guy's 90 years old. Give him a break."
A. telling a story in which the n-word is liberally used, or
B. driving through a black neighborhood, flaunting rifles and yelling racial epithets?
I'm going with 'B.' So why did Chris Matthews devote the first half of this afternoon's "Hardball" to the n-word story, and not one second to the driving-through-the-black-neighborhood story?
You don't suppose, do you, that it could have anything to do with the fact that 'A' concerns Republican George Allen, and 'B' his Dem challenger, James Webb?
Matthews opened Hardball with an extended segment featuring Patricia Waring, who in 1978 was apparently the wife of the coach of the University of Virginia rugby club team. She claims that, attending one game, she overheard George Allen telling a story in which he repeatedly used the n-word. She says she confronted him about it, asking him not to use the word.
Last night viewers of MSNBC's Hardball were greeted with this jarring intro from Chris Matthews: "The country thought Bush was a pleasant, down to earth guy who would not rock the boat. Instead, swayed by some inner impulse, or the influence of Dick Cheney, he has proved to be lawless and reckless.He started a war he cannot finish, drove the government into debt, and repeatedly defied the Constitution,' the words today of David Broder, the country's premier political reporter. Let's play Hardball." Matthews celebrated Broder's Washington Post column as Hardball highlighted it not once but three times.
Chris Matthews sees W's favorables going up and the Dem generic congressional edge going down. He's ticked, and on tonight's Hardball he made clear his explanation for this revoltin' development: the MSM isn't churning out enough bad news from Iraq.
Matthews first floated the idea during a segment with GOP strategist Ben Ginsburg and Dem counterpart Steve McMahon. I'll mention as an aside that McMahon strikes me as one of the more reasonable, straightforward Dem partisans.
Quoth Chris: "Does it bother you gentlemen both that when you watch television now that the war seems to have left the TV screen to a large extent and that's helping your [GOP] party? Does that bother you that this war is largely off television now? We're not being shown it that much."
When Ben Cardin, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Maryland, appeared on this afternoon's Hardball, host Chris Matthews played a Cardin TV ad most of which was taken up by Cardin informing voters that:
"I always try to do what's right, what's in the best interest of Maryland families: taking on the drug companies, the oil companies, the insurance companies."
Let's first note Cardin's daring admission that he tries to do 'what's right.' Bold stuff! Actually, come to think of the track record of Maryland politicians when it comes to obeying the law, maybe it is a rather maverick position after all.
But moving to the meat of his message, is this the platform that Dems in general and Cardin in particular want to offer voters? Vote for us: we'll attack our country's biggest employers and taxpayers! You might call the platform: Cardin vs. Capitalism.
Chris Matthews is as frustrated as an able-bodied seaman after six months without shore leave. While Matthews clearly senses this is the year for the Dems to snatch back the Speaker's gavel, hisfrustration is born of the fear that the Dems will squander the opportunity out of timidity - an unwillingness to attack President Bush on the war in Iraq.
Things boiled over during the 5 PM EDT edition of this evening's Hardball. With guests Howard Fineman of Newsweek and Chuck Todd of the Hotline as witnesses to the meltdown, Matthews first played a hard-hitting Moveon.org ad accusing Republicans of misleading the nation into Iraq and trying to "exploit 9/11" to win elections. Matthews complained that while the Republicans are willing to use the same kind of tactics against the Democrats, Dems "are afraid to run an ad like that."
What would you call someone who, as per Project Vote Smart, within the last six years has received a 100% rating from NARAL and Planned Parenthood and a 0% from the National Right-to-Life Committee? A 100% rating from the ACLU. A 0% rating from Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum. A 100% rating from the League of Conservation Voters and a 0% rating from the conservative Family Research Council?
Oh, and someone who voted against George W. Bush for president in 2004, against the confirmation of Sam Alito to the Supreme Court, and who demands the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq?
I'd call that person a liberal. Not MSNBC. Not Hardball. Not Chris Matthews's field correspondent David Shuster. The person in question is Republican-barely-in-name-only Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. How did Shuster describe him in a set-up piece for Hardball's discussion of the Rhode Island GOP senatorial primary this evening? A "moderate Republican."
Look no further than NewsBusters for complete coverage of Katie Couric’s debut as the anchor of the "CBS Evening News." The MRC’s Brent Baker began the week by noting a previous Couric claim that she’s not biased, but Fox is. Additionally, the new anchor has hired liberal Douglas Brinkley as the show’s historian. On September 5, Couric appeared on "The Early Show," only to apparently forget the program’s name! (Perhaps the perky anchor should do some homework on her new network.)
Ms. Couric wasn’t the week’s only big news. On September 6, "Hardball" host Chris Matthews talked to a Green Party candidate who called for President Bush’s execution. He later told the man, "I like you already." Somewhat ironically, this was only a day after Matthews wondered if Republicans would be using "fear tactics" and other extreme strategies to get elected. (Perhaps calling for the President’s execution could be an example?)
In another Chris Matthews story, NewsBusters Editor Matthew Sheffield talked to the host and was told the Valerie Plame story is now too complicated for coverage. In international news, Mr. Sheffield also noted the BBC’s continuing refusal to disclose the religious background of terror suspects.