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.
As James Taranto suggested Monday in his WSJ 'Best of the Web' column, at some point you can question a person's patriotism. Cindy Sheehan surely crossed that Rubicon long ago. But just in case there was any doubt, Sheehan made things perfectly clear this evening, flatly stating that she'd rather live under Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez than George Bush.
Sheehan made her comments during a Hardball appearance, during which guest host Norah O'Donnell, sitting in for Chris Matthews, gave her a surprisingly rough ride. At one point, O'Donnell asked: "Why go stand by side by Hugo Chavez in Venezuela? Why do that? Would you rather live under him than George Bush?
Ouch! Norah O'Donnell knows how to get a guy where it hurts. And Kim Jong Il might be feeling 'ronrier' than ever.
On this evening's Hardball, Norah, guest-hosting for Chris Matthews, discussed the failed North Korean missile tests with three separate panels. In each case, she used the same Freudian-fraught metaphor for failure:
To her first panel, composed of congressmen Dan Burton [R-IN] and Bill Pascrell [D-NJ], Norah noted:
"We saw the Taepodong missile essentially exploded and went limp into the sea of Japan after 45 seconds."
Next, with guests Michael Scheuer and Tyler Drumheller - both former CIA officials - she mentioned:
Just when you're ready to write Chris Matthews off as a hopeless liberal, he pulls something like he did tonight, criticizing the New York Times for its latest leak of an anti-terror program.
Matthews' guests were the Rev. Al Sharpton and conservative radio talk show host Melanie Morgan. On the subject of the Times leak, Sharpton predictably proclaimed that the Gray Lady was "absolutely right," while Morgan sided with President Bush. That's when Matthews weighed in with his surprising pronouncement:
"Melanie, on this issue, believe it or not, I'm with you. I think the Times should not have run that story, I don't think we needed to know that. It wasn't really about us; it was of more interest to the enemy."
"President Bush has broken the law!" That's how viewers of MSNBC's Hardball were greeted last night when Chris Matthews first came on the air. You get the sense that Matthews has been dying to utter those words for a long time now and the Supreme Court's Guantanamo decision gave him the excuse to do so. In the MRC's annals of jarring and incredibly biased openings this ranks right up there with Katie Couric's: "Good morning, the Gipper was an airhead!" The following is Matthews full introduction to last night's Hardball:
Chris Matthews: "President Bush has broken the law. That's the verdict of the Supreme Court. Bush says he can try prisoners on Guantanamo without courts martial or Geneva Convention rules. The court says he's wrong, that he's overreached his lawful powers as president. Let's play Hardball. Good evening. I'm Chris Matthews and welcome to Hardball. President Bush's wartime powers took a major hit today when the Supreme Court ruled he overstepped his authority in creating military tribunals for prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. The Court concluded by a 5-3 vote that the tribunals were illegal and violated the Geneva Conventions and U.S. military law."
As fellow NewsBuster Mithridate Ombud noted today, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll has flatly accused the Bush administration of anti-Semitism in its criticism of The New York Times for its latest leak of an anti-terror program. Claimed Carroll:
"The Times is a good target... Also, the name of the New York Times contains the word 'New York.' Many members of the president's base consider 'New York' to be a nifty code word for 'Jewish.' It is very nice for the president to be able to campaign against the Jews without (a) actually saying the word "Jew" and (b) without irritating the Israelis."
Is this an emerging MSM theme? Perhaps, judging by Chris Matthews' line of questioning on this evening's Hardball.
On last night's Hardball actress Mia Farrow slipped in the old "Bush went to war for oil," canard during a discussion about Darfur. MSNBC's Chris Matthews asked Farrow what she wanted the American people and government to do about the crisis in Darfur to which Farrow demanded: "Support the relief agencies, and urge our leadership. There is, of course, a lack of political will. There is no oil in Darfur, only human beings."
The following is the fuller exchange between Farrow and Matthews:
Chris Matthews: "Well, tell us what the American people watching right now and what they're government can do. Individuals can't do much. What do they want or you want the government of the United States to do?"
MRC's Geoff Dickens reports that MSNBC's "Hardball" on Tuesday also pushed the line that Bush was pandering to conservatives with media criticism. After claiming, like a liberal talking-point machine, that unnamed "national security experts" disagree with the president that the New York Times has harmed national security, since the Bush people announced vaguely in public that they would monitor terrorist finances, reporter David Shuster picked up on the Ed Henry echo:
Shuster: "Political analysts believe the Bush administration’s latest war with the media is motivated in part by the coming midterm elections."
Political analyst Charlie Cook: "They’ve got to motivate their base and conservatives, Republicans tend to distrust the media, so any time you can play off and use the media as a foil, it’s probably a good thing."
Over the last couple days, I've received four emails from one liberal reader of these columns, repeatedly asking me why conservatives are so 'angry and mean-spirited'. I tried explaining that while anger is common to the human condition, in no way do conservatives have a monopoly on the emotion. To the contrary, I cited a recent study revealing that, even when controlling for relevant variables, Republicans tend to be happier than Democrats.
Since I was unable to prove the proposition to the reader's satisfaction, I very much hope he was watching this evening's Hardball. For the show provided a perfect case in point of Republican good humor and raw Dem anger.
The Seer of MSNBC hath spoken: no matter how good the news might be now for President Bush, he will be in worse shape come the November elections.
That was Chris Matthews' reading of the entrails on this morning's Today show. Guest-hosting David Gregory interviewed him, and, sounding the same theme we saw over at this morning's Early Show, cast the controversy over the latest leak of an anti-terror program not as a threat to national security, but as "this attack on the New York Times."
Gregory teed up this softball for Matthews: "The question is, whether should we be taking their [the administration's] word for it, that these are legal programs? Do you think the administration, any administration, has earned the right . . . to protect that kind of secret?"
In the closing minutes of MSNBC's "Hardball" on Thursday night, guest host Norah O'Donnell was wrapping up with anti-war liberal Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson and anti-war paleoconservative Pat Buchanan. (That should not qualify in any studio as a balanced left-right panel on the war.) MRC's Geoff Dickens noted that O'Donnell couldn't maintain much objectivity as they discussed conservative Sen. Rick Santorum and the new declassified document showing American forces have found 500 WMDs, sarin and mustard gas, in Iraq. Both columnists pounded Santorum -- and O'Donnell laughed at the liberal's gibes, repeatedly.
O'Donnell began the segment by playing a clip of Santorum speaking out:
"Now, that was the Senator Santorum on the Senate floor yesterday. Let me ask both of you, do you think, that if had we found weapons of mass destruction, that the White House would allow Senator Rick Santorum to announce that we’d found them?"