The topic was the disconnect between Hillary Clinton's support for the Iraq war and the fact that her coterie is composed of hard-core, anti-war liberals. In discussing it with guest Dee Dee Myers on this evening's Hardball, Chris Matthews let slip that he equates liberalism with 'caring' for peace and human rights.
Here's how it went down. Discussing Hillary's inner circle, Matthews suddenly interjected:
"Here's something I find to be a mystery, and it just came to me, Dee Dee. You can answer it, you can solve it. When I think about the people who are really loyal to Senator Clinton, they're all pretty much liberals - and I mean liberals - I don't mean just on big spending programs at home, but they really care about peace, and they care about human rights, and they're very suspicious of foreign policy intrigue and overreach. And yet Hillary Clinton is for that. She was for the war with [sic] Iraq. She still is. How can she build a campaign for president on the backs of people who don't agree with her on the central issue of our time?"
In one fell segment, Chris Matthews pulled back the curtain and revealed his view of America's foreign policy intentions as fundamentally pernicious. For him, far from the liberator of Iraq, the United States is no better than a 'colonial master.'
Matthews' guest on this evening's 'Hardball' was John Batiste, one of the former generals calling for Donald Rumsfeld's removal as Secretary of Defense. Not long ago, the Today show accorded Batiste a platform to make his Rumsfeld-must-go pitch. The topic at hand tonight was the failure to anticipate the insurgency with which we have been been faced in Iraq.
Describing the miscalculation, Matthews said: "It's like the British coming in to New York at the beginning of the Revolution and saying they weren't going to face any resistance."
One thing is certain: the people within the government leaking the existence of secret anti-terror programs to the press are trying to hurt the president politically. Chris Matthews believes they have been more successful in achieving that goal with the recent leak of the phone data collection program than they were with the terrorist surveillance program leak.
On this morning's Today show, Matt Lauer asked Matthews: "Will there be a huge political fallout? Americans are evenly split on the domestic program [i.e., the terrorist surveillance progam]. Do you see this as the same situation?"
"No. Nobody can imagine being on the telephone with an Al Qaeda agent but they can imagine privacy matters.
You'd think that any reasonable person would be glad that we are not suffering the kind of turbulent times on American campuses experienced during the '60s and early '70s. Campus buildings sacked and put to the torch, student union buildings occupied by armed militants, academic careers and lives disrupted, and the ultimate tragedy of four young people killed at Kent State.
Could it be that Chris Matthews isn't reasonable? On this evening's Hardball, Matthews wasn't glad - he was galled, seeming to express nostalgia for that riotous past.
His guest was author Tom Wolfe, who back in the day had written of radical chic, and most recently wrote the disturbing tale of amoral campus life "I Am Charlotte Simmons". Wolfe spoke of having recently attended a reunion of 1969 Stanford campus radicals, recalling "that's when they blew up buildings and everything else."
Some people might think that striking a police officer, and almost striking a police car while driving under the influence of . . . something, are serious offenses.
Not Chris Matthews.
Here's how Matthews introduced this evening's Hardball, running down the rap sheet of various government officials who have had run-ins with the law in recent times:
"Tonight, putting on the squeeze, putting on the sleaze. Another House aide cops a plea in the Abramoff case. "Dusty" Foggo quits over the poker-and-prostitute scam. Bill Jefferson gets tagged by a witness wearing a wire. Claude Allen, the president's top domestic kick [sic] gets nabbed for shoplifting. David Savafian, his top personnel man [sic: he was a procurement official] gets arrested. Then there are the Judge Judy level cases. Cynthia McKinney who punched a cop and Patrick Kennedy who almost ran into one."
As reported by NewsBusters, MSNBC’s David Shuster declared on Monday’s “Hardball” that the “outing” of Valerie Plame Wilson negatively impacted America’s ability to track the development of nuclear weapons by Iran. Stephen Spruiell of National Review’s “Media Blog” reported Saturday that the Washington Post’s Dana Priest doubts the accuracy of Shuster’s claim.
Apparently, during a WaPo live chat on Thursday, Priest stated: “It was reported before that she worked on proliferation issues for the CIA. The leap in this new round of information is that her outing significantly impacted our current intel on Iran.” Priest continued: “I don't buy it. First, no one person who quit clandestine work four years ago is going to make that big of a dent in current knowledge.” And, to Shuster’s detriment, continued: “But also, nothing like this came up at the time of her outing and I believe it would have. Think we need some actual details.” And concluded: “At present it just doesn't smell right.”
Spruiell also referenced some points made by Tom Maguire of Just One Minute. Apparently, Priest made some similar statements during an online chat in November shortly after her secret terrorist prisons story was released:
The New York Times reported on Saturday that Valerie Plame Wilson has been given over $2.5 million for her memoirs: “The book, whose working title is ‘Fair Game,’ is scheduled to be published in the fall of 2007 by Crown Publishing, an imprint of Random House. Steve Ross, senior vice president and publisher of Crown, said the book would be Ms. Wilson's ‘first airing of her actual role in the American intelligence community, as well as the prominence of her role in the lead-up to the war.’"
This makes one wonder if the drive-by media are going to praise the Bush administration for giving Wilson a new, significantly more profitable writing career. After all, she will likely make more money from this book than she made her entire life working for the CIA.
Now, of course this is being said with a tad bit of tongue in cheek. However, the media have made it one of their goals to regularly drive home the point that this affair ruined Wilson’s career. In fact, as reported by NewsBusters, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and David Shuster both made such assertions during Monday’s version of “Hardball.” For instance, Shuster began Monday’s report:
'Today' had two 9/11 family members on as guests this morning to react to yesterday's jury determination of life in prison rather than the death penalty for Zacarias Moussaoui. That the family member who expressed general support for the process was relatively unknown, whereas the bitter Bush-administration critic, Kristin Breitweiser, is a household commodity, is indicative of MSM coverage in the years since 9/11.
Ironically, it was the family member that was disappointed in the verdict who expressed pride in America and the process, whereas Breitweiser, who got the verdict she preferred, remained bitter.
First to speak was Hamilton Peterson, who lost his father and step-mother on United 93. Katie Couric opened by asking him why he believes Moussaoui should have received the death penalty. Consider Peterson's response:
Imagine you're a US Senator. A citizen has just suggested that a former CIA Director and named FBI agents merit the death penalty as much as convicted terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui. Do you:
A. condemn such an outrageous comment? B. move on to another topic? C. congratulate the citizen for making "an absolutely accurate point"?
If you're Joe Biden [D-DE], the answer, incredibly, is 'C'.
Here's how it went down. In a 'Hardball' devoted to reactions to today's jury decision giving life in prison to Moussaoui, both Rudy Giuliani and Biden had expressed regret that Moussaoui hadn't been given the death penalty, in light of the fact that he knew of but failed to disclose the 9/11 plot.
On Monday’s 5PM EST version of “Hardball,” host Chris Matthews and MSNBC correspondent David Shuster made a number of factual misrepresentations and suppositions involving Valerie Plame/Wilson and the Bush administration (video link to follow). The most absurd part of this segment was Shuster’s suggestion that the current stalemate with Iran over its nuclear ambitions was exacerbated by the release of Wilson’s name to the press: “Intelligence sources say Valerie Wilson was part of an operation three years ago tracking the proliferation of nuclear weapons material into Iran. And the sources allege that when Mrs. Wilson`s cover was blown, the administration`s ability to track Iran`s nuclear ambitions was damaged as well.”
Of course, neither the names nor the positions of such sources were revealed by Shuster in this report. Also, there were absolutely no details given to support this wild assertion as to specifically what Plame was working on at the time, or what information concerning Iran ended up being missed by the Administration as a result of her departure from the CIA.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only problem with this report. In his preview of the segment, Matthews said:
It seems to me that those that are in such an uproar over the leak of Valerie Plame's name and claim that it had a negative impact on our national security would be hesitant, to say the least, about disclosing further information about Plame--especially information that pertains to what she was working on while at the CIA. But apparently, if that particular information is potentially damaging for the Bush administration, it's a different story. Here's what David Shuster reported on tonight's Hardball:
MSNBC has learned new information about the damage caused by the White House leaks. Intelligence sources say Valerie Wilson was part of an operation three years ago tracking the proliferation of nuclear weapons material into Iran. And the sources allege that when Mrs. Wilson's cover was blown, the administration's ability to track Iran's nuclear ambitions was damaged as well.
On last night's Hardball David Gregory seemed to be pushing Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld out the door. Not once but twice Gregory suggested to two separate guests the best way for the administration to get back on track is to can the Vice President and Secretary of Defense: "Susan Molinari, can the President get any traction if he does not dismiss his Vice President or the Secretary of Defense? If he doesn’t do something that large?" Then later to Newsweek's Jon Meacham: "But didn’t reducing Karl’s role speak to the bigger issue for Josh Bolten, which is can he really make any kind of splash? Can he get anybody to notice if big figures, the biggest of the figures, be it the Vice President or the Secretary of Defense are not dismissed?" And before the show ended even Margaret Carlson got into the act: "He’d have to change the big jobs. Secretary Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney even, although I know that’s hard to do."
Much as this column is quick to point out the prevalent liberal bias of the MSM, fairness compels us to acknowledge those occasions, rare as they might be, when the MSM plays it down the middle.
NBC's handling of the recent spike in gasoline prices could be shaping up to be one of those flying-pig moments of 'fair & balanced' coverage. At the very least, there are indications that the conventional wisdom within NBC News is that the Bush administration is not to blame for the high prices, and/or that there is little government can do to stem the price rise.
As noted here earlier today, Katie Couric and David Gregory both expressed skepticism on this morning's Today show as to the government's ability to do much in the circumstances. Gregory was back at it this evening, guest-hosting for Chris Matthews on 'Hardball.'
Advice to any Republican loyalists planning to watch a replay of this evening's Hardball: hide the sharp objects, put the firearms under lock and key, flush any potentially poisonous potions. With lovely-but-lethal Norah O'Donnell sitting in for Chris Matthews, this might have been the most unrelenting gloom-a-thon since Watergate. Riffing off the latest polls showing W at 33%, it was one guest after another - from Bob Shrum to Kate O'Beirne to a panel of "hotshots" - painting a decidedly unrosy scenario. And just when things couldn't get any more dread, a former Clinton administration official popped in to predict millions might die from bird flu thanks to government inattention "in recent years."
Something wild happens on Hardball whenever Chris Matthews ventures outdoors. It was during an outdoor panel when Zell Miller challenged Chris to a duel and last night outside the MSNBC studios Matthews called the current White House communications team: "Vicious, almost canine," and so sweaty that, "They wouldn't pass lie detector tests, they've got such a sweat problem."
Matthews posed the following question to Pat Buchanan at around 5:43pm on last night's Hardball:
Matthews: "Are they gonna bring in some nice people to work at the White House or more mad dogs? The next press secretary, will it be a good, nice fellow to deal with like Tony Snow or Tony Blankley or will it be one of these vicious, almost canine people they have working for them right now, who will do anything to advance their cause?"
On last night's Hardball, Newsweek's Evan Thomas stated that he believed the primary reason for the war in Iraq was to "teach Arabs a lesson" after 9/11. Again, what liberal media? Thomas was on with Christopher Hitchens but because it was the end of the segment, Hitchens didn't have time to respond to this ridiculous comment--although, at the end of the clip, you can hear Hitchens mentioning the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act (you know, the one that made regime change official U.S. policy).
This week marks the ninth anniversary of Hardball with Chris Matthews. To celebrate, Matthews has several political figures say something good about Hardball at the of end of almost every segment. On this segment, former DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe praises Hardball while knocking FOX News and CNN. He says FOX has the "right-wing nutcase" [sic], while Hardball is the "number one" place to go to get "the facts straight" and "right":
MCAULIFFE: Happy Anniversary to Hardball, the greatest show on television. Beats FOX, they have right-wing nutcase and CNN. Hardball is number one, you want to get the facts straight, you want to get them right, watch Chris Matthews on Hardball.
Watching Chris Matthews and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California) on Tuesday’s “Hardball,” it was impossible to differentiate between the political talk show host and the Democrat senator searching for mid-term votes for her party. In fact, at times, it seemed that the host was the Democrat senator, as Matthews appeared to be beseeching his guest to censure President Bush regarding terrorist surveillance.
Matthews began the segment (hat tip to Expose the Left): “Let me ask you this, Senator, are you going to follow through with this? Are you going to try to get him censured?” As Boxer answered, Matthews could regularly be heard in the background saying “Right” to the senator’s statements as if he was one hundred percent in agreement with everything one of the most liberal members of Congress was saying.
For example, when Boxer said, “Now we see how hard the president himself tried to hurt Ambassador Joe Wilson, who told the truth about Saddam Hussein and the nuclear weapons program. He told the truth that it wasn`t happening,” Matthews said, “Right.” Boxer continued, “And yet in fact, this president wanted to release information that even he knew, and the administration knew, was suspect.” Matthews again interjected, “Right.”
Matthews then went into full cheerleader mode sans miniskirt and pompoms:
As the Meredith Vieira incident shows us, network anchors and talk show hosts can display their biases off the air by where they go and speak...or march. At the tail end of "Hardball" Thursday night, MRC's Geoff Dickens found MSNBC host Chris Matthews promoted Rosie O'Donnell and her new HBO documentary on her gay-family cruises. But the real eye-opening part for media watchdogs was Matthews admitting he spoke at an event for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay-left lobbying group, in Philadelphia. (Sure enough, here's a picture, with the Matthews mane in a frostier phase. And wow! See another media speaker, NPR "Fresh Air" hostess Terry Gross, whose show originates from Philly.) Matthews explained:
That didn't take long! Back in the MSM's Watergate heyday, it took a while for a steady drumbeat of revelations, stories and allegations to gather sufficient momentum. The pace has apparently quickened in the modern liberal-media world. On this morning's Today show, speaking of the allegation that President Bush authorized the disclosure of information by Scooter Libby, Matt Lauer asked Chris Matthews: "scale of 1 to 10, [where] 10 is a deal-ender, where does this fall?"
Matthews didn't hesitate: "heading to 10."
Even Lauer seemed taken aback: "Really, that big?"
For good measure, Matthews later analogized VP Cheney to Henry II having put out a hit leading to the murder of a dissenter in his administration.
The graphic claims 'Kerry Plays Hardball', but it was all slow-pitch softball this evening for the junior senator from Massachusetts. After feeding Kerry a number of leading questions letting him tee off on the way Pres. Bush allegedly misled the country into war, talk turned to exit strategies.
Matthews: "Senator, you have a plan, pretty hard, about how we can deal with getting out of Iraq."
Kerry: "Well, it's time to get tough, Chris."
Now there's a courageous politician for you - one willing to admit he's tough.
Kerry repeated a stock formulation he's been using this week: "The policy is broken. When you go down to the Vietnam War Memorial, you take a look at it, you see that almost half the names that are on that wall were added after our leaders knew that the policy wasn't working. That's immoral, and I believe it's immoral today for us to pursue a policy where our kids are dying, losing their limbs, going to Walter Reed . . . because Iraqi politicians won't compromise."
Is there something in the water at NBC/MSNBC? Laughing gas in the ventilation system, perhaps? Earlier today, I posted the photo below, showing Matt Lauer dissolving in laughter on this morning's Today show. It happened when Katie made her momentous announcement that she was leaving for CBS. Matt pretended to take it totally in stride, making to move right on, intoning "also coming up in this half-hour" in his best canned host-voice before bursting out.
This evening, it was Chris Matthews' turn to double over in laughter. Now granted, Matthews had a better excuse - his guest was the daffy Howard Dean. Matthews managed to keep a straight face when Dean first claimed that the Democrats "want to bring this country back together again so everybody is respected," and then proceeded to lash out at every Republican within arm's reach.
On last night's Hardball MSNBC's David Shuster's piece on Tom DeLays sounded as if it was approved by the DNC Communications Department before it hit the airwaves. Okay seriously now, other than the snippets from the President, what in the following report doesn't sound like it's straight from a DNC press release?:
David Shuster: "He is the scalp that Democrats have long been sharpening their knives for. And today a Democratic Party spokesman called Tom DeLay’s announcement, quote, ‘Just the latest piece of evidence the Republican Party is a party in disarray, out of ideas and out of energy.’ At the White House, President Bush put on a good face."
[George W. Bush: "My own judgment is that our party will continue to succeed because we’re the party of ideas."]
Mickey Kaus over at Slate's Kausfiles blog noticed a remark Gloria Borger said to Chris Matthews on the economy. Apparently the media will beat the drumbeat of economic bad news until Nancy Pelosi becomes Speaker of the House.
When Gloria Borger announced on Chris Matthews that Treasury Secretary John Snow would be replaced after November because "the Republicans don't want to go through confirmation hearings and relitigate the economy before the [election]," you knew Snow would be gone by July. ... Yes, it would truly be awful for Republicans if in the days before the election the papers were filled with articles about their stewardship of the economy, their one remaining success story! It might push the news from Iraq off the front page! ... Does Gloria Borger really think the economy is the Republicans' weak spot? ... P.S.: When did Borger become Johnny Apple? [A long time ago--ed. Good point]
Be the death literal or figurative, in recent days Democrats and their MSM claque have demonstrated a ghoulish penchant for dancing on the graves of their political opponents. As documented here, on the very day of his death last week, MSNBC's Alison Stewart, subbing for Keith Olbermann on Countdown, took nasty parting shots at Caspar Weinberger. Stewart disparaged as both a budget "slasher" and a big spender the man who, as Ronald Reagan's Defense Secretary, contributed mightily to winning the Cold War.
Today, it was Tom DeLay's retirement announcement that brought out the worst in the left. Bob Shrum was Chris Matthews' guest on Hardball, and so avidly did Shrum exult in DeLay's predicament that former GOP Rep. Susan Molinari was plainly repulsed. But far from taking Shrum to task for his unseemly asperity, Matthews commended him.
NBC and MSNBC have a penchant for gulling viewers into believing they are presenting balanced panels by pairing a partisan Democrat with Pat Buchanan. The sleight-of-hand recently reached an apex when the Today show mislabeled Buchanan a "Republican strategist." Buchanan - the fellow who quit the GOP in 1999 to run for president against W as the candidate of the Reform Party. See report with revealing screen shot here.
Any pretense that Buchanan is anything but a Bush administration critic often more in synch with the Democrats than the GOP was stripped away on this evening's Hardball, when a partisan Democrat let the cat out of the bag.
A follow-up on Howard Kurtz's profile of Keith Olbermann: in his weekly "Media Notes" online chat at washingtonpost.com, Kurtz tries to declare that he has no opinion on the question of Olbermann's ideological bias:
Washington, D.C. : Can you tell me what is the upside in Keith Olbermann denying he has an agenda? I mean, you didn't buy that line. Who would?
Howard Kurtz: I'm agnostic. It is true that he was on every night in 1998 dealing with the Clinton scandal. And even most opinionated anchors don't want to be seen as aligned with one party or another (although Sean Hannity talks openly about raising money for Republican candidates). The true test will come the next time there's a Democratic president.
There was more good news about the economy today. The Conference Board announced that consumer confidence is now at its highest level since May 2002. Yet, on Tuesday’s “Hardball,” host Chris Matthews just couldn’t admit on television – with people watching – that the economy is actually doing well. Instead, he stuttered, stammered, and referred to the current economic condition as “not terrible.” Yep. 4.8 percent unemployment and 17 straight quarters of positive economic growth in Matthews’ view is “not terrible.”
In a segment featuring Pat Buchanan and former Clinton transportation secretary Rodney Slater, the threesome were discussing potential changes in the administration now that Andy Card has stepped down as the president’s chief of staff. Buchanan said:
Wouldn't you think that someone who fashions his show "Hardball" would have the intestinal fortitude to invite on at least one guest who disagrees with his world view? At least tonight, Chris Matthews apparently thought that unnecessary.
Here was Matthews guest line-up this evening:
Philippe Sands: left-wing Brit, author of a new book, Lawless World, accusing Pres. Bush of having decided very early on in the game to go to war against Iraq.
Susan Page: reporter for the Dem-friendly USA Today. Let's call the affable Page a voice of the more reasonable realms of the center-left media.
Craig Crawford: the snarky MSNBC/CBS political analyst who enjoys taking snide shots at the Bush administration.
Charlie Cook: political pollster, he of the Cook Political Report. Call Cook reasonably down-the-middle, but consider that the bouquets he placed in his own bio come from the NY Times, Bob Schieffer Al Hunt and David Broder. No one has ever accused Cook of being a Republican.
Sure, Matthews has had his share of Republican guests. But couldn't he have found at least one to round out tonight's left-leaning/Bush antagonist line-up?
Seemingly on every evening's Hardball, Chris Matthews enjoys chanting a mantra of allegedly failed Bush administration promises on Iraq. Chief among them is his taunt that the White House claimed that our troops would be greeted as liberators.
Just as it might be soothing to see someone silence an ostentatious Berkeley hippie endlessly iterating 'ummm', it was most satisfying to witness Christopher Hitchens on this evening's Hardball comprehensively refute Matthews on his claim.
Once again, Matthews launched into his leitmotif: Pres. Bush: "strikes out . . . on the fact that we were going to be treated as liberators."