Maybe this afternoon's oppressive heat and humidity on the Hardball Plaza in DC were getting to Chris Matthews. I'm not sure how else to explain his complaint, to the effect that it is wrong of the Roman Catholic Church to apply its rules to politicians as it does to other adherents.
His remark came in the course of a debate on religion on this afternoon's edition of "Hardball" between Christopher Hitchens, author of the atheist polemic "God Is Not Great", and the Reverend Al Sharpton.
HARDBALL HOST CHRIS MATTHEWS: Today you have the Roman Catholic church through its bishops challenging the rights of Catholic office-holders to take positions for abortion rights. They basically say you have to be for imprisonment of people involved with abortion or else you're not a Catholic and you'll be excommunicated. It seems to be an era, not just because of Islam, to keep religion out of politics . . . Why are they foisting themselves, why are the religious leaders jumping into the political marketplace and saying to politically-elected people, who are duly elected, "you cannot take that position and be in our church, or we will excommunicate you"? That seems to be what's going on.
As the media continue to pile on Ann Coulter in the wake of her being ambushed by Elizabeth Edwards and Chris Matthews on Tuesday’s “Hardball,” a disturbing yet predictable double standard is emerging.
On the one hand, Coulter is being pounded for using “hate words,” so much so that Matthews advocated Wednesday that people not buy her books.
Yet, Edwards and her Democrat presidential candidate husband John appear to be getting a pass regarding the hiring of two anti-Christian bigots back in February as official bloggers for his campaign.
In fact, Mrs. Edwards was interviewed this morning by ABC, CBS, and NBC to get another chance to speak about Coulter's "hate words." Yet, not one host asked her any questions concerning these bloggers.
With that in mind, MRC President Brent Bozell issued the following statement Thursday:
On Wednesday evening, ABC's World News with Charles Gibson and the NBC Nightly News both covered the Elizabeth Edwards/Ann Coulter controversy, noting that the Edwards campaign has eagerly used their run-ins with Coulter to raise campaign money. ABC's Jake Tapper uniquely noted this week's fundraising deadline for the presidential race, while relaying the Edwards campaign's success at raising "Coulter cash." Tapper: "Just as Coulter has a book to promote this week, Edwards has a fund-raising deadline. Enemies can have their uses."
NBC's David Gregory noted the Edwards campaign's immediate use of yesterday's flap to solicit campaign money, but the network also failed to put one of Coulter's controversial quotes in proper context, thus making it appear worse than it actually sounded in full. On Monday's Good Morning America, while answering a question about her joke from last March about John Edwards being a "faggot," Coulter suggested there was a double standard between the outrage over her remark and the greater tolerance by the media and liberals of a question by Bill Maher about whether the world would be a better place if Vice President Cheney had been assassinated. (Transcripts follow)
Chris Matthews followed-up his, now infamous, staging of the Ann Coulter vs. Elizabeth Edwards throwdown by inviting on John Edwards to join his wife in the pile-on of the conservative columnist. On tonight's Hardball, Edwards condemned Coulter's "hate-mongering" but Matthews never brought up the fact that Edwards' own staffers spewed some pretty hatefulthings, or that Matthews on the very same show compared conservative students to violent inbred hicks. While Matthews did mention Edwards campaign has used Coulter to raise money, most of the interview was full of softballs.
Less noticed during Chris Matthews's ambush of Ann Coulter last night was an off-hand remark by the host which established (as if there was any doubt) his elitist left-wing mentality.
Despite his stacking of the deck against Coulter, many in the audience continued to support the conservative author. The fact that Matthews hadn't managed to turn the audience into an anti-Coulter mob clearly befuddled the former top Democratic aide, prompting him to compare them to the violent, inbred, backwoods characters from the 1972 movie "Deliverance."
“Elizabeth Edwards should look close to home when it comes to ‘hatefulness and ugliness’ for it was her husband’s Democratic presidential campaign that hired two official bloggers who attacked ‘Christofascists’ and insulted Christians and their faith in the most repulsive words imaginable, which I won’t repeat here. Go Google Amanda Marcotte and Holy Spirit.
On Wednesday’s "Good Morning America," co-anchor Chris Cuomo portrayed the previous day’s on-air debate between Elizabeth Edwards and Ann Coulter as a one sided lecture from the ‘08 contender’s wife. The ABC program edited out or didn’t play either of Coulter’s best verbal barbs.
The conservative author’s zinger, that John Edwards’ use of her name to raise money is better"than giving $50,000 speeches to the poor," was bluntly cut out. And although GMA found time to play Mrs. Edwards’ denunciation of the conservative commentator as hateful, the program skipped over a retort by Coulter that described Mr. Edwards’ law practice as "bankrupting doctors by giving a shyster, Las Vegas routine."
In a related note, MSNBC’s "First Read" page now admits that the ambush by a 2008 candidate’s wife was a preplanned event between the network and the John Edwards campaign:
By now, most people in America have viewed the scene from Tuesday’s “Hardball” when Elizabeth Edwards, wife of presidential candidate John Edwards, called in to dress down Chris Matthews’ guest, conservative writer Ann Coulter.
After seeing the coverage of this matter Wednesday morning, a revelation made at MSNBC’s “Hardblogger” emits a bit of a rodent aroma leading one to believe that this entire incident was set up not just to embarrass Coulter, but possibly to advance the current Democrat push to squash conservative talk radio (emphasis added):
Update (Ken Shepherd | 09:16 EDT): Matthews appeared with Joe Scarborough a few minutes ago on MSNBC to discuss the matter. Expect more coverage in a followup post on NewsBusters shortly.
Chris Matthews should keep his evening job. Appearing on this morning's "Today," the Hardball host was manifestly bleary and off his game.
Matthews was in, at 7:12 am EDT, to discuss with "Today" co-host Meredith Vieira the dust-up on last night's "Hardball," reported here by NewsBuster Geoffrey Dickens, between Ann Coulter and Elizabeth Edwards. Matthews couldn't keep his names straight. He first referred to Coulter as "Ann Edwards," then recycled the "Ann Edwards" moniker in referring to Elizabeth Edwards.
HARDBALL HOST CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well that was a pretty tough [translation: pro-Coulter] crowd, and if you think Ann Edwards is over the top, she had a lot of people behind her last night who agreed with her.
And later . . .
MATTHEWS: Unfortunately, you're dealing with a real-life situation with Ann Edwards' medical challenges, which we all know about, and the fact that they did lose their son Wade, and you don't make jokes about that.
On tonight's Hardball, MSNBC's Chris Matthews blind-sided his guest, conservative columnist Ann Coulter, with a live call from Elizabeth Edwards. The wife of presidential candidate John Edwards proceeded to demand Coulter stop her "personal attacks" on her husband, but Coulter shot back that at least she wasn't "bankrupting doctors by giving a shyster, Las Vegas routine."
The following is the full transcript of the exchange as it occurred on the June 26th edition of Hardball:
Chris Matthews: "You know who's on the line? Somebody to respond to what you said about Edwards, yesterday morning, Elizabeth Edwards. She wanted to call in today, we said she could. Elizabeth Edwards go on the line, you're on the line with Ann Coulter."
I’m not sure what derangement syndrome Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is suffering from, but on Friday’s “Hardball,” he actually blamed the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center on President Reagan’s rollback of CAFE standards in 1986.
I kid you not.
To set this up, Kennedy and conservative talk show host Melanie Morgan were invited on to discuss profits that are currently being made surrounding “solutions” to anthropogenic global warming.
That precipitated the following set of almost unbelievable inanities from Kennedy (video available here, relevant section begins at 2:10):
Chris Matthews actually came out for a pardon for Lewis "Scooter" Libby, but he had a catch, "Send him to Iraq." On tonight’s Hardball the MSNBC host, during a discussion about whether Bush should pardon Libby, threw out the following wacky proposal on the June 21 edition of his show:
Chris Matthews proposed to former Cheney aide Ron Christie and former Assistant Attorney General Robert Raben: "I got an idea, I got a solution. Pardon him but send him to Iraq in uniform and put him on the front. Send him to the front. He supported the war, send him to fight it! Hey look a lot of guys have to go fight that war, didn't do anything wrong....In the old days the judges would take a working class kid who got into a scrape with the law and say, 'Junior want to go jail or do you want to go join the Army?' They should say the same thing to Scooter Libby. 'Want to join the Army?'"
Chris Matthews couldn’t contain his giddiness, first noted here, when he praised Michael Moore’s Sicko movie on tonight’s Hardball. After he sent his correspondent, MSNBC’s David Shuster, to chase down Moore on Capitol Hill and get an exclusive rant from Moore against the "rackets" that are American health care companies Matthews yelped: "You know I gotta agree with him on this stuff. I gotta agree with him. He's got a case and health care in this country is not working."
The following is the full segment including Shuster’s interview with Moore as it occurred on the June 20th edition of Hardball.
As we all know, Andrea Mitchell having told us so, Chris Matthews is no liberal. However the Hardball host did emphatically state on this afternoon's show that, at least when it comes to health care, he agrees with Michael Moore.
Matthews had just aired an impromptu interview that MSNBC's David Shuster had snared with Moore when the filmmaker appeared on Capitol Hill today on the occasion of this week's release of his latest work, "Sicko," regarding health care in the United States. In both Shuster's depiction of Moore's views, and in Moore's own statements in the course of the interview, Moore made clear that he wants to eliminate private-sector participation in health care insurance.
As Shuster put it: "in this movie, Moore calls for the end, the end, of for-profit healthcare."
In the aired interview, Moore described private-sector insurers as a "racket" and said "I want private insurance companies out of the equation."
So how did Matthews react to Moore's call for the killing of private-sector health care?
HARDBALL HOST CHRIS MATTHEWS: You know, I gotta agree with him on this stuff. I gotta agree with him. He's got a case. Healthcare in this country is not working.
Coming back from a commercial break that included a plug for "the best reporting, the power of NBC News" on "Super Tuesdays," MSNBC's Chris Matthews was caught uttering an expletive, complaining about the content of the network's programming.
The "Hardball" host complained that "we're all reacting here and putting on shit" with the network's breaking news coverage pertaining to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg leaving the GOP to become an independent.
Chris Matthews grew "verklempt," he said, on Wednesday night’s Hardball, as he pondered how a class reunion made plain for him that some people watch him every night, and trust him like people trusted Walter Cronkite. From there, Matthews and his guests took up the subject of objectivity in journalism:
Ana Marie Cox, Time.com: "I also want to say that this idea about voice being very important to the current viewer and, and Eugene’s right that it’s true, that this idea that we should be aiming for objective truth in, in journalism is a relatively new thing for us."
Chris Matthews: "I agree."
Cox: "And I think what’s important is that people trust, they could trust an unbiased [sic], they could trust a biased source."
Matthews: "Okay, this country was built on biased reporting."
File this one under the "no duh" department. On tonight's Hardball, Chris Matthews attempted to outline his stance on illegal immigration but prefaced it by declaring: "I don’t want to be the conservative here. I’m not comfortable playing that role."
Matthews uttered what has to be the Understatement of the Week, during an exchange with Ron Reagan Jr. and former John McCain spokesman Todd Harris, on the June 12th edition of MSNBC's Hardball.
Chris Matthews: "But let me ask you guys, I don’t want to be the conservative here. I’m not comfortable playing that role. I’m just not comfortable playing it. But I would like to see a liberal policy of immigration, a liberal policy of letting people come into work but dammit, enforce the law and stop the B.S.! Stop the undocumented workers and the clever language used. All the time, anything but enforcing the law."
On Wednesday’s "Situation Room," liberal anchor Jack Cafferty argued that, perhaps, it's President Bush, not Vladimir Putin, who is attempting to reignite the Cold War. However, Cafferty might want to consider the fact that fewer pesky journalists seem to mysteriously disappear in the United States than they do in Russia.
During this week’s Republican debate, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer had a suggestion for the national GOP: Be more like liberal Arnold Schwarzenegger. Now, this is an idea he’s peddled four times since the midterm elections. Isn’t it sweet when left-wing journalists offer advice to the Republican Party?
Speaking of liberal cable hosts, Keith Olbermann suggested this week that the unraveling of a terror plot at JFK airport was politically timed to help the Bush administration. Yes, Keith, and the Paris Hilton media soap opera is a cover by the White House to distract from the immigration debacle.
What are the odds Ben Affleck would refer to Muslims who believe literally in the Koran as "Neanderthals?" But when it comes to Christians . . .
As NewsBuster Geoffrey Dickens has noted, Affleck appeared on yesterday evening's edition of Hardball. And while it's true that the actor/director/Dem activist offered a generally innocuous analysis, he did manage to engage in a bit of religious bigotry.
Affleck's foul foray arose in the course of his discussion of the way the various Republican candidates have dealt with the issue of evolution and creationism. Talk turned to the former governor of Arkansas.
BEN AFFLECK: I think Huckabee actually framed his position in a much less dramatic way than had been made out. Which was he said it could be six days, or it could be six epochs, which I thought was much more along the kind of intelligent design lines than his position had been cast. In other words, he had been made out to a little bit of a kind of like a real sort of Neanderthal about it, a literalist.
On tonight's Hardball Chris Matthews invited on actor Ben Affleck to pontificate on the 2008 presidential race and while the liberal actor stuck to safe, conventional wisdom observations on the likes of Rudy, Hillary and Barack he couldn't resist a pointed jab at the current administration. When Matthews recited an emailer’s question about impeaching President Bush, Affleck reasoned it wasn’t necessary since Bush and Cheney are "going to go down in history as having presided over one of the worst administrations in American history."
The following is the full exchange as it occurred on the June 7th edition of MSNBC’s Hardball:
Chris Matthews: "Scott Trent of North Carolina: 'Mr. Affleck, what is your opinion on the possibility of impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney? Do you support impeachment for the crimes of the administration?' That's Trent, Scott Trent of North Carolina."
Check the link if you think I’m kidding, I’ll wait.
Anyway, on Friday, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews interviewed the publisher, Eric Jackson of World Ahead Publishing (absolutely must-see video available here). And, trust me, Matthews was having a hard time controlling himself, especially towards the end when he asked his guest:
Chris Matthews began his interview of Dan Bartlett by singing "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" in his honor. He ended with an apparently heartelt plea that Bartlett, who today announced that he will be leaving his position as counselor to President Bush, not join Fox News.
Bartlett was a guest on this afternoon's Hardball. In a segment beginning at 5:24 pm EDT, Matthews first sparred with Bartlett over the rift between President Bush and his conservative base over immigration reform. At the end of the interview, talk turned to Bartlett's future plans.
On Tuesday, Chris Matthews made clear his displeasure with the Mexicans who booed the American entrant at the Miss Universe pageant. Matthews was back on the conservative side of the cultural divide today, letting Air America's Mark Green know in no uncertain terms that he didn't appreciate being classified a bigot because he does not support gay marriage.
Green, a perennial candidate for office in New York who now with his multi-millionaire brother has bought Air America out of bankruptcy, was Matthews' guest on this afternoon's Hardball along with GOP consultant Ed Rogers.
At about 5:38 pm EDT, the topic turned to gay marriage.
Yes he leans left. But MSNBC host Chris Matthews was manifestly offended by the Mexican audience at the Miss Universe pageant that booed Miss USA. The Mexicans were adding insult to injury, since the lovely and gracious Rachel Smith of Tennessee had earlier slipped onto her derrière during the evening gown segment of the competititon.
Discussing the matter on this afternoon's Hardball with his panel of NBC political director Chuck Todd, Howard Fineman of Newsweek, and Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Tribune, Matthews unleashed on the Mexicans:
That's about the worst PR I can think of for this Mexican immigration bill which is mainly helping Mexicans become legal Americans. . . This young woman smiled right through it. That's class, but [the booing] wasn't very classy.
What is it about immigration though that bothers Mexicans? I mean there are 12 million here illegally. That's fairly benign, even if it is passive, policy. It's hardly predatory. What other country in the world let's 12 million come in there, live there illegally? How can you be mad at that?
When it comes to anti-war politics, Rosie O'Donnell is one bedfellow Chris Matthews would gladly do without. The MSNBC host made that crystal clear on this afternoon's Hardball. Matthews played a clip of O'Donnell's recent slanging spate in which she unmistakably intimated to Elizabeth Hasselbeck that US troops are terrorists, responsible for 655,000 civilian deaths in Iraq [itself a grossly exaggerated figure in any case].
MSNBC HOST CHRIS MATTHEWS: While I generally sympathize with her point of view, her skepticism about this war, I do have a problem with her suggestion that we're the terrorists, which is clearly what the intent of that conversation was.
Chris Matthews is not a liberal. Andrea Mitchell has told us so. Yet there are times when our fervent belief in that tenet is strained. Such as on this afternoon's "Hardball," when the only two moments from last night's GOP debate that Matthews singled out for praise were when candidates adopted liberal positions: McCain opposing torture and Rudy sticking up for abortion.
MSNBC HOST CHRIS MATTHEWS: Last night in Columbia, South Carolina, the two GOP frontrunners showed profiles in courage: McCain opposing torture, Giuliani defending abortion rights. . . Here's Senator McCain on the issue of torture last night; I was very taken with these words . . . You know, I don't offer strong opinions all the time on this show [of course not], I usually bow to the guests. But I am so taken with that . . . I know he scored, Chuck [NBC political director Todd] no points last night but he scored one with me . . . Anybody's who's ever been in uniform is against torture, and it's the pencil necks, if you will, the armchair generals who always like wars a lot except when they or their family members might be in those wars.
Yup -- according to Chris Matthews. The MSNBC host suggested that Mitt Romney had landed a "sucker punch" on Sharpton in reacting to the reverend's assertion that "true believers" will defeat the Mormon in the presidential race. Matthews laced his interview with Sharpton on this afternoon's "Hardball" with a number of comments painting Sharpton as the offended, not the offender.
After playing a tape of Sharpton's remark, and Romney's response in which he characterized Sharpton's comment as bigoted, Matthews went off on a riff.
Romney won, Rudy lost. That's Chris Matthews' take on the GOP presidential debate he moderated on MSNBC last night. Matthews made his views clear during his appearance on this morning's "Today." Meredith Vieira, who interviewed Matthews at 7:09 EDT, seemed to share her colleague's assessment.
TODAY CO-HOST MEREDITH VIEIRA: Winners and losers in your assessment?
MSNBC HOST CHRIS MATTHEWS: Oh, come on. Well, let me just say I thought that just factually, Giuliani stood out on the issue of abortion rights, clearly. At one point I asked if they would be happy, if it would be a good day for America, if the courts struck down Roe v. Wade, the court decision back in '73 that gave a woman the right to an abortion, and he said 'that would be OK,' Very tentative. And then later on he reasserted his position that he is for abortion rights. So I think that separated him on a big issue.
VIEIRA: Yeah, but Chris, he also said it would be OK if a strict constructionist judge upheld Roe v. Wade. It sounded like he was talking out of both sides of his mouth there.
Actually, Bill Maher didn't add that Seinfeldesque qualifier when describing Republican affection for Ronald Reagan. Maher was a guest on this afternoon's "Hardball." In the course of taking a cheap shot at Fred Thompson, this Cornell alum [what is it about my alma mater, which also churned out Keith Olbermann?] had this to say:
BILL MAHER: It amuses me so much that the Republicans now are talking about the great charisma of Fred Thompson, basset-hound faced Fred Thompson. The Republican party has this campy fixation with Ronald Reagan. It is almost gay about the way they are talking about him and obsessing about him.
Over at The Hillary Spot on NRO, a great spot for keeping up with the presidential campaign, Jim Geraghty found that Chris Matthews wasn't exactly playing "Hardball" before the Democratic debate. But he did imply that Bush was a little racist because he was faster to arrive on the scene at Virginia Tech than in New Orleans after Katrina. (Question to Chris: Do you think no blacks were gunned down at Virginia Tech?) Geraghty thought Matthews sounded like a DNC press aide:
Chris Matthews' first question to Elizabeth Edwards on Hardball: "What's the difference between having a Democratic President and a Republican President?"