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.
With our very own Matthew Sheffield, literally confronting him last night, it seems like Newsbusters has gotten into Chris Matthews’s head or at least his bookmarks. On last night’s Hardball Matthews confessed to regularly checking out what the blogosphere is saying about him and seemed close to mentioning Newsbusters as one of the sites he visits. The mention came during a discussion with Tom Curry of MSNBC.com and Tom Matzzie of Moveon.org, as Matthews attempted to portray himself as middle-of-the road, using the old excuse that he gets attacked from the left and right.
Chris Matthews: "Let me ask you about the whole world, you're not partisan. You know every morning I get up when I'm in a ridiculously open mood and I check and see how I'm doing on something like google, and I get a pasting from the left, from Moveon or not Moveon, generally, Mediamatters, almost every day. I get a pasting from Newsmakers or what's it called News..."
[After being called out by NewsBusters, Matthews ended his boycott late Friday. Be sure and read updates to this post below.]
Since the revelation that Richard Armitage, a former high-ranking official in the State Department, was the source of the much-ballyhooed Valerie Plame "leak," many in the media have refused to touch the story with a ten-foot pole. This was quite a turnaround since before the Armitage involvement was known, many journalists believed the CIA leak story was one worth pursuing on a daily basis. Some even believed it could bring down the Bush White House, or at least end the careers of Karl Rove and Dick Cheney.
One of the biggest media figures boycotting the Plame story has been MSNBC host Chris Matthews, who has yet to mention the scandal at all since the Armitage report broke, a dramatic contrast to the 27 times he mentioned the "scandal" in the five months leading up to it.
Like P.J. Gladnick, I couldn't help but notice Matthews's strange flip. So I decided to ask him about it. His answer revealed an animus toward Vice President Dick Cheney and a fear of being asked to answer tough questions himself.
Last night, I went to a press conference/party held by MSNBC and National Journal celebrating a new venture the two media outlets are launching together. Quite a few NBCers were there, including Chris Matthews. I struck up a conversation with the host about the topic of Plame and why he hadn't talked about the story at all. Here's a rough transcript of our discussion which I wrote down shortly thereafter:
Geoff Dickens had the low-down first on Chris Matthews smiling through kooky Green Party gubernatorial candidate Malachy McCourt's talk about how he'd favor execution if the criminal was Pinochet or George W. Bush. It must depend on which politician is being criticized. On August 19, 2004, when columnist Michelle Malkin suggested it was possible John Kerry may have wounded himself in Vietnam, Matthews huffed after Malkin was evacuated, "We're going to keep things clean on this show. No irresponsible comments are going to be on this show."
After Matthews pounded Malkin on how the Bush campaign should force the withdrawal of the Swift Vet ads, it was comical how out of control Matthews became. He wouldn't let Malkin speak for more than a few seconds without interrupting with outrage. See how very different Malkin was treated, compared with the execute-Bush joker. San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown argued there was no question Kerry was shot in Vietnam, so what else was there to ask?
Video clip of Matthews pouncing on Malkin as he deliberately misconstrued her assertion Kerry suffered a “self-inflicted wound” to be an accusation “he shot himself on purpose” (2:10): Real (3.7 MB) or Windows Media (4.2 MB), plus MP3 audio (650 KB) [Transcript follows.]
MSNBC's Chris Matthews invited on New York gubernatorial Green Party candidate Malachy McCourt, to state his case but when the brother of Angela's Ashes author, Frank McCourt, suggested George W. Bush be tried for war crimes and executed, the Hardball host didn't even flinch. The following exchange occurred on last night's Hardball:
Matthews: "Look, let me ask you this. Where are you on capital punishment?"
Malachy McCourt: "Capital punishment? I think that if, if I've got to find that guy in Spain who indicted Pinochet and get him for war crimes, and I get him to do the same thing for Bush. And in that case, I would be for capital punishment. Otherwise, I am against it. Spitzer, who is the other guy running here, he is for capital punishment for those who kill policemen. Well, my son is a cop in New York, and if somebody killed my son, and it wouldn't do me any good or give me any satisfaction to sit there in some death house in Sing Sing and watch them put some other person to death because they killed my son. That would not cheer me up one bit, Chris."
This week, the MRC’s Megan McCormack brought us a second-by-second account of Kyra Phillip’s now infamous "bathroom chat." She also did a follow-up on FNC’s "Fox and Friends" parody of the event. Soon, the story became a full blown media sensation.
NBC's Norah O'Donnell, substituting for host Chris Matthews on last night's Hardball, demanded White House counselor Dan Bartlett defend Donald Rumsfeld's comparison of war critics to Nazi sympathizers. O'Donnell claimed the criticism smacked of "desperation" and cited an L.A. Times editorial to Bartlett that called Rumsfeld's speech, "inane."
The following are the full questions from O'Donnell to Bartlett:
Norah O'Donnell: "Fascists, Nazis, communists. The new e-mail from the RNC that I saw today called Democrats, 'defeatocrats'. Some may argue that all of this name-calling reeks of desperation."
Norah O'Donnell, Roger Simon, and Evan Thomas all seemed to agree on tonight's "Hardball" that there's no way that President Bush actually read The Stranger by Albert Camus and three Shakespeare plays as he claimed in an interview with Brian Williams yesterday. In other words, all together now, "Bush is an idiot." The originality of the criticism of President Bush continues to baffle my mind as I'm sure it does yours as well.
Of the three, Evan Thomas is by far the worst, joking that he "doesn't believe President Bush does read"--which draws a sizable laugh from O'Donnell--and then continues by saying, "but before we get too snooty about this, he does read some and, you know, that's not a bad thing. If there's some intellectual curiosity by the President, it's to be encouraged."
One of Rush Limbaugh’s many pet peeves with the "drive-by" media’s coverage of Hurricane Katrina has been reporters nagging that the Bush administration wasn’t doling out money fast enough only to turn around and then complain that much of money has been wasted in various scams. A prime example of this was NBC’s Norah O’Donnell on last night’s Hardball. O’Donnell, determined to deny the administration any successes, asked the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson:
"A year later and less than half of New Orleans residents have moved back. There have been, according to government watchdog groups, at least $2 billion in fraud and waste, scams, et cetera. Can Bush claim that there's any success in what's happened in the Gulf Coast in the past year?"
Host of MSNBC's "Hardball," Chris Matthews, also hosts a syndicated Sunday morning talk show, "Chris Matthews." The syndicated show just had its five-year anniversary and Broadcasting and Cable magazine interviewed the host.
Sunday mornings elicit thoughts of Tim Russert and
George Stephanopolous, but the name Chris Matthews doesn't always come
We are very competitive with those guys. The quality of the show is
beating the PR. My hope is that, if everyone watched it once, they'd
keep watching it.
It’s been noted on this site before that David Shuster’s reports for MSNBC’s Hardball read like DNC press releases and last night was no exception as he attacked the administration on Katrina and Iraq and even found time to slam Sen. George Allen. Shuster opened fire: "Almost a year since Hurricane Katrina swamped the Gulf Coast, left the country shocked at the Bush administration's ineptitude the Bush team is now engaged in damage control for the year after reminder."
During his report Shuster cited Nancy Pelosi to attack Bush on Katrina, Sen. John McCain to hit Bush on Iraq and Howard Dean to slam Allen. Then Shuster called the Democrat's "wise" and doomed the GOP with this sign-off: "Reminding voters of your opponent's mistakes is a wise political campaign strategy and between George Allen, the problems in Iraq and the anniversary of the Bush team's Katrina debacle Democrats are now having a field day. Republicans are simply trying to hang on just 75 days before the congressional elections. I'm David Shuster for Hardball in Washington."
On this evening's Hardball, Matthews pleaded with Buchanan to take back the Republican party from neo-conservatives. In closing an earlier segment with guest Joe Biden, Matthews had taken a shot at neo-cons: "Unfortunately we have been carried into Iraq by the dreams of the ideologues."
When Buchanan came on, Matthews took that same notion one step further:
"Pat, when are the traditional conservatives in this country who believe in less government, less role in the world, like yourself, though you might be more extreme than some, George Will, Bill Buckley, when are you guys going to retake your party from the neo-conservatives and stop these overseas campaigns?"
On tonight's Hardball, Chris Matthews pretty much allowed Howard Dean to slam Sen. George Allen without challenging him on his assertions. Asked about Allen, Dean said that he served with Allen while they were both Governors and that Allen "doesn't belong in public service." Dean also said that Allen "always shooting from the hip, he never thinks through what he means, and he caters to the wrong instincts in people" of which the "macaca" incident is supposedly proof.
Matthews did ask Dean if he knew what "macaca" meant but did not ask Dean if he knew what it meant before this incident, which seems like the more obvious question to me. My bet is that he didn't have a clue much like the vast majority of people in this country including, perhaps, Allen himself.
As reported last night by Mark Finkelstein, Chris Matthews interviewed Congressman John Murtha’s Republican opponent, Diana Irey, in Pennsylvania’ 12th district on "Hardball". Part of the interview focused on the Haditha incident in Iraq and Congressman Murtha’s statement of condemnation of American troops surrounding the incident. Matthews challenged Irey, "...if you’re right about Murtha, you must be right about "Time" magazine and all the news publications" and claimed he had no complaints about Murtha’s Haditha comments:
"You know, I think, I think Murtha served in the military as a combat officer in Vietnam. I don't have any complaints, but you have a complaint, that's fine."
If I ever knew that Chris Matthews' brother Jim Matthews is the Republican candidate for Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania, I had forgotten. Chris manifestly has not, and on this evening's Hardball peevishly berated a Republican guest who had the temerity to remind him of that fact.
After interviewing Dem Congressman Jack Murtha, Matthews had Murtha's Republican challenger Diana Irey on as a guest. Before getting into substance, Matthews testily alluded to the fact that Irey's campaign manager had sent Matthews a press release with proposed questions for Murtha. First on the list:
"How hard is it for you knowing that Jim Matthews just appeared two days ago with your opponent Diana Irey to cut the ribbon at her volunteer HQ in your hometown of Johnstown?"
We all remember how the MSM climbed all over Hillary Clinton when a few years ago she thought it was funny to claim that Mahatma Gandhi "ran a gas station down in St. Louis." Or more recently when she made her "plantation" remark.
And of course we recall the liberal media saying it was a career-ender for Joe Biden to have said "you cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking,"
I'll get to the good stuff in a minute. But before I tell you just how Mark Green went about slurring VP Cheney, President Bush and religious conservatives, let me explain why he went out of his way to defame them in the most obnoxious possible manner on this evening's Hardball.
Mark Green is about to lose to Andrew Cuomo in next month's New York Democratic primary for Attorney General. The latest poll has him eating Cuomo's dust by 18 points. And that was before the final nail in his coffin - yesterday's AFL-CIO endorsement of Cuomo. Green has a history of losing. He lost to Al D'Amato for senator. He did manage to get himself elected consumer commissioner of NYC, but then lost to Bloomberg for mayor. His impending loss to Cuomo will in all likliehood mark the end of his elective political career. Any future run could put him in Harold Stassen territory.
It doesn't take much to offend liberals' exquisite sensitivities. The latest? Referring to Islamofascists as . . . Islamofascists. Chris Matthews got the ball rolling on this evening's Hardball. But Charlie Rangel upped the ante to the max, managing to impugn Christians and Jews in the bargain. Fortunately, GOP Congressman Dan Lungren had the guts to call Rangel on it.
Matthews got things started by challenging Lungren: "Would you include Hezbollah in that group [of Islamofascists]? Would you include Hamas, they are they enemies of Israel. Are they also enemies of ours? Are they also fascists because they have a dispute with Israel? Anybody who is against us is a fascist now."
Rangel sent things to the moon a bit later with this line: "You take Islamic and you call them fascists, you call them radical. You never called Hitler a Christian fascist. This is insulting to an entire religion."
Apparently stung by criticism of his comments on last night's Hardball, Brian Williams has responded with a clarification at the Daily Nightly, the in-house blog of the NBC Nightly News. In doing so, Williams seems to have coined a new phrase, claiming to have been 'aggressively misunderstood' by his critics.
As noted here, on last evening's 7 PM Hardball, Chris Matthews asked Williams about the latest terror plot members who were "people who have lived in London and England and the free world for all these years that become citizens, subjects of the Crown, and, yet, after having gotten to know us, they want to kill themselves to hurt us."
Responded Williams: "And that, Chris, that last aspect, the willingness to take one's own life -- I always tell people there are guys on our team like that, too. They're called Army Rangers and Navy Seals and the Special Forces folks and the first responders on 9/11 who went into those buildings knowing, by the way, they weren't going to come out. So we have players like that on our team."
Brian Williams of "NBC Nightly News" surely intended to praise the heroism and selflessness of our various service people. But he employed at best an awkward, at worst an inappropriate and offensive manner of doing it.
On this evening's 7 PM ET edition of Hardball, Chris Matthews mused about the UK-born terrorists whose plot was foiled today:
"Here we have maybe 24 people who have lived in London and England and the free world for all these years that become citizens, subjects of the Crown, and, yet, after having gotten to know us, they want to kill themselves to hurt us. Isn't that an even deeper conundrum here than the chemicals being used in these attacks?"
Williams [appearing from London's Heathrow airport]: "And that, Chris, that last aspect, the willingness to take one's own life -- I always tell people there are guys on our team like that, too. They're called Army Rangers and Navy Seals and the Special Forces folks and the first responders on 9/11 who went into those buildings knowing, by the way, they weren't going to come out. So we have players like that on our team."
That didn't take long. Just yesterday, Ned Lamont was the netroot hero, the pride of MoveOn.org, the scourge of the GOP. Today, Dem nomination in hand, he began his run toward the center - with a little help from his MSM friends.
On this evening's Hardball, Chris Matthews scoffed at the fact that the RNC put Lamont's picture up on its website alongside Michael Moore, Markos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos, Howard Dean, and John Murtha. Well, let's see: Dean via his DFA organization openly campaigned for Lamont over Lieberman. Daily Kos put itself totally in the service of Lamont. As for Moore and Murtha, can anyone point to an iota of difference between their views on Iraq and those of Lamont?
Would Matthews have scoffed had the RNC put up this actual photo showing Lamont on his victory platform surrounded by Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and NOW's Kim Gandy?
Interviewing Lamont, Matthews offered him the chance to show what a non-partisan guy he is, inviting him to name his Republican 'heroes.' Lamont mentioned Teddy Roosevelt - for busting trusts, Colin Powell, and John McCain - for being willing to buck the status quo.
An aside - Lamont noted that he disagreed with McCain on 'choice.' I don't know about you, but of all the political sleight of tongue, using 'choice' as a euphemism for abortion is one that particularly grates on me.
Mega-blogger Markos Moulitsas Zúniga of the Daily Kos talking down the blogs' influence on the Connecticut Dem primary? John Fund of the good old Wall Street Journal talking it up?
The odd couple, guests on this evening's Hardball, engaged in some serious media gender-bending. With Mike Barnicle sitting in for host Chris Matthews, Fund went first, and overflowed with praise for the role the blogs have played in the race.
Fund: "I think [the blogs' impact has] been very significant. I offer a tip of the hat to them. They have taken the former vice-presidential candidate and created a single issue around the war, and this is is a man who opposed George Bush on tax cuts, and many things, and they have turned him into the perception as George Bush's lackey, and they are on the verge of knocking off a senator. That's happened only twice before. It's remarkable."
On last night's Hardball, leftist and Pacifica radio talk show host Amy Goodman patted Chris Matthews on his back for his long held anti-war stance. Prior to a big anniversary celebration at Rockfeller Center, Goodman started to congratulate Matthews on MSNBC's 10th year in business but then took the moment to slam its executives for firing Phil Donahue for his anti-war stance. Goodman roared: "they didn't want him to be the face of this network, an anti-war face at a time when the other networks were waving the flag." However when Matthews reminded Goodman that: "if being against the war was a problem here, I'd have been out of here about four years ago, " the Democracy Now host quickly realized her error and made good by congratulating Matthews.
Those poor MSMers. They can't stand Ann Coulter. And they know that every time they vilify Ann, it only serves to drive her fame and sales of her latest book, Godless. But they just can't 'hep' themselves. They can't resist precisely the kind of mean-spirited barbs that make Ann's case and boost her bottom line.
Chris Matthews was a splendid case in point on last evening's Hardball. Consider the very first words out of Matthews mouth to Ann: "The question I have is do you have a soul? Really." See what I mean?
For your viewing pleasure, MSNBC decided to add to the Friday Night Fights series with a special Thursday edition. However, as "Hardball's" producers must have believed the challenger in the left corner, host Chris Matthews, was going to be outmatched by the challenger in the right corner, they decided to film the segment with an audience conveniently stocked with Ann Coulter haters. As a result, the fight turned more into a tag-team wrestling match than traditional mono-a-mono boxing.
It was quite evident from the onset that this was going to be a team effort by Matthews and his audience when he began:
Now, I want to know right off the front -- we`re going to use our audience in a very profane way. Who loves Ann Coulter? (APPLAUSE) Who vomits at the mention of her name? (APPLAUSE)
Nice way to introduce your guest, Chris. It seems impossible to imagine you introducing someone like Al Franken in such a fashion. Yet, Matthews wasn’t done. His next uppercut came only seconds later when he asked Coulter, “Do you have a soul?” This was followed a bit later with a right hook when Matthews said Ann was "All brain, no heart."
With that as pretext, this is a melee that must be watched to be fully appreciated. Here is the video. Pay particular attention to the people standing behind Coulter strategically placed to always be shaking their heads in disgust on virtually every one of her words. And, make sure that you have no drinking vessels around when Matthews asks Coulter to elaborate on the position she recently espoused concerning a former president’s sexual preference. (Transcript follows).
Wasn't Tucker Carlson supposed to be MSNBC's conservative counterweight to Olbermann, Matthews, & Co? I might have to rethink that one, judging by the opening roll of his 'Tucker' show this afternoon, which clearly cast Israel as the heavy in the current conflict. Here's how it went:
Open to video of an Israeli tank firing rounds, as an off-screen voice breathlessly announces "Lebanon, under siege" as the scene changes to smoke rising from an urban Lebanese landscape.
Cut to a Lebanese couple, with the woman informing us that "our house is bombed, everything is bombed."
Cut to what looks like a mosque in ruins. Announcer: "Israel's attack on Hezbollah marches on, and so does the devastating toll on civilian life."
Cut to woman in Muslim head shawl comforting distraught young boy with kiss on head.
It is axiomatic that the goal of the foreign policy of the United States should be the advancement of the interests of the United States and not of any other country, no matter how sympathetic, including Israel. That said, should it not give Chris Matthews pause that his pointed anti-neo-con spiel has become indistinguishable from the well-rehearsed Pat Buchanan line on the matter? In a weird twist, Dem hyper-partisan Bob Shrum, a supporter of Israel, was the odd man out on this evening's Hardball.
To demonstrate my point, let's play a little game. Guess who made the following statements?
A. "The neo-cons are out there complaining that this president isn't tough enough. I have no idea what they mean. 50,000 dead in Iraq - it was supposed to be a cakewalk, Ken Adelman is out there today saying we should go other places, you have other guys that want to blow up every Arab country on the list."
It wasn’t the barnburner it could have been, but there was a wonderful mini-flyweight boxing match Friday night on MSNBC’s “Hardball.” In the left corner, weighing 105 pounds, Norah O’Donnell. In the right corner, weighing 100 pounds, Ann Coulter (video to follow).
The crowd got a sense before the opening bell that O’Donnell was ready for a donnybrook when prior to Coulter even stepping foot out of her dressing room, O’Donnell referred to her opponent as a “conservative provocateur.” The first actual fisticuffs though came early in round one with O’Donnell jabbing at Coulter over the recent hostilities in Israel and Lebanon being the fault of the Bush administration:
Does Norah read NewsBusters? Could it be pure coincidence that Hardball's 'What'd You Say?' audio highlights of the week just happened to select the two items we had highlighted here and here? Who knows?
For the record, the two featured soundbites were Joe Biden's
Indian-7/11 slur, and Cindy Sheehan's pronouncement that she would
rather live under Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez than George Bush.
Panelist Tucker Carlson had the best line: "[Sheehan's] a
pathetic figure. It would be a hard moral call whether or not to have
her on. She's almost like a sideshow figure now." Too true.