In recent days, Rush Limbaugh has called attention to the sharp-elbowed way in which the Democratic leadership forced former Marine major and Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett out of the race for U.S. senator from Ohio, installing Cong. Sherrod Brown in his place. On tonight's Hardball, Chris Matthews offered an interesting theory: that Hackett's controversial statements, particularly his unsubstantiated allegations of past cocaine use by President Bush, became too hard for the Dem leadership to defend.
In a set-up piece, MSNBC's David Shuster reported that "Hackett's style began creating waves. On [a past edition of] Hardball, he stood by his allegation that President Bush was once a cocaine user." Shuster rolled tape of Hackett on an earlier Hardball stating that he took such allegations "at face value" and assumed they were "quite factual." In that same earlier Hardball, Matthews was shown grilling Hackett hard: "you know for a fact that Pres. Bush, the Commander-in-Chief, because you're running for the US Senate, was a cocaine user? You know that for a fact?"
It wasn't enough for Chris Matthews to analogize the Bush administration to a family of Mafia killers. He had to call President Bush "Fredo," the weak brother. Matthews' theory was that Bush was unable to control Cheney's handling of the shooting incident in a manner similar to which Fredo was unable to control his wife.
As he amply demonstrated at his press conference today, Harry Whittington is not on life support, but Matthews was working as feverishly as an EMS on a heart attack victim to keep the Cheney story alive. And in doing so, Matthews managed to be ungracious to perhaps the most gracious man in America, the very same Harry Whittington himself. Said a sneering Matthews:
"They dressed up Mr. Whittington rather well, with a lot of make-up, he looked great, I'm glad he's back, but he walked right back into the hospital again. What was that? "
Thirty-six minutes into tonight's Hardball, host Chris Matthews finally permitted a Cheney defender, former Cheney aide Ron Christie, to grace his program. Even then, Christie was denied an unobstructed opportunity to make his case, having to share the segment with hyper-partisan Dem consultant Bob Shrum - he of the record-breaking number of losing presidential campaigns - who tried to drag in everything from Iraq to Hurricane Katrina.
Until Christie's belated appearance, Hardball was an absolutely ceaseless cavalcade of criticism heaped on the Veep and his handling of the shooting incident that included:
clips of NBC reporter David Gregory haranguing Scott McClellan;
file footage of Gloria Borger supposedly tripping up Cheney over the Saddam/Al-Qaeda connection;
MSNBC reporter David Shuster's decidedly downbeat portrayal of events;
a grim assessment from Washington Post reporter Jim Vandehei;
a pessimistic view of Whittington's medical situation by former NIH director Bernadine Healy; and finally
a panel discussion with former Clinton Press Secretary Dede Myers and DC factotum David Gergen
The negative portrayal of the Vice-President and of the administration's handling of the matter was absolutely unrelenting.
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews seriously asked on the 5pm EST edition of Tuesday’s Hardball, about media coverage of the Cheney hunting accident: “Has the press been playing this down?” Matthews exclaimed that he was “shocked” at how “this was bottom of the fold in the New York Times and the Washington Post yesterday.” He went on to claim: “I've talked to experts, they can't believe that the papers treated this as such a light issue.” Turning to guest Dee Dee Myers, Matthews contended: “I was kind of surprised, to put it lightly, to see that the major newspapers on the East coast had buried this story below the fold and it was only today that they brought it up above the fold." Matthews’ thesis was too ludicrous even for an astounded Myers, President Clinton’s one-time Press Secretary, who countered with common sense: "I don't think putting it on the front page is burying it, Chris, I think that was an appropriate placement for the story.” (Fuller transcript follows.)
Mondays are normally a target rich environment for television talk show hosts that, like most Americans, take weekends off. After all, they’ve got more days to cover than normal. And, given a major East Coast snowstorm, a Congressional report on how the three levels of government handled the Katrina disaster, two air marshals facing drug charges, Saddam returning to trial, Alabama church burnings, the United Nations calling for the closure of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, clashes in Haiti, and Tehran threatening to abandon a nuclear treaty, you would think that there was a lot for any member of the press to really sink his/her teeth into today. Yet, for some reason, Chris Matthews decided to spend the better part of three quarters of Monday’s 7PM EST installment of “Hardball” discussing a quail hunting accident the vice president had this weekend.
Matthews began: “Questions, questions, questions. The vice president of the United States shoots someone in the face late Saturday afternoon. Why didn`t he tell us? Why did Cheney wait until today, Monday, to talk to the president?”
In reality, it seemed that Matthews was the one with questions, and was thoroughly annoyed that the vice president of the United States, after accidentally shooting a close friend while hunting, didn’t immediately call a press conference to alert the media. This indignation went so far that NBC News chief White House correspondent David Gregory and Matthews actually discussed whether or not the vice president was calling the shots, and, therefore, had too much power. From closed captioning:
Let the record show that it took the MSM less than a day to float the possibility that Dick Cheney intentionally shot Harry Whittington.
And who better to surmise that the Vice-President might have been trying to bump off his buddy than Ron Reagan, that primetime speaker at the Kerry convention who moonlights as an MSNBC "political analyst"?
Reagan appeared on tonight's Hardball with Chris Matthews, and in decrying the fact that the Secret Service apparently denied local law enforcement immediate access to Cheney, said the following:
"Law enforcement is entitled to investigate this case, to find out what happened, to find out if he had anything against Mr. Whittington, and to find out - again I don't mean to suggest anything - to find out if anyone had been drinking . . ."
On last night's Hardball Chris Matthews invited on Rep. Barney Frank to defend the wild claim Frank made during the Hurricane Katrina hearings: "We have to do more, because here’s what I have to say and I hate to have to have to say this about my own government. But I believe what we are seeing with regard to New Orleans and the surrounding area is a policy frankly of ethnic cleansing by inaction."
Tim Graham blogged about it here but a quick survey of MRC analysts reveals MSNBC's Hardball has been the only network show to touch on the remark. This is a far cry from the reaction Pat Robertson received for his controversial remarks especially when you consider the arguable relevance he still has at least compared to Frank's status as a current sitting member of Congress.
Hardball's screen graphic "Global Fury" presumably referred to the rioting over the Mohammed cartoons. But it might also have been a subliminally sardonic comment about Chris Matthews' guest, Amy Goodman, host of the far-left radio show "Democracy Now."
If Hillary is angry, perhaps she's taken lessons from Goodman. This is one angry woman. Goodman's explanation by way of a justification of the rioting?
"This is about people feeling marginalized. This has to do with the war in Iraq, this has to do with 'the Occupation' [translation: Israel's claim to a right to exist], this is about hundreds being held at Guantanamo with the Koran being desecrated."
On Tuesday's Hardball, the discussion turned to Jimmy Carter's remarks at the funeral of Coretta Scott King. The former president had brought up wiretapping. Host Chris Matthews observed: "Of course that‘s hot because J. Edgar Hoover was wiretapping Dr. King and feeding all the dirty to LBJ, you know?"
The former FBI chief had indeed wiretapped the late civil rights leader, but not on his own authority and initially not for President Lyndon Johnson. King biographer David Garrow wrote in a 2002 Atlantic Monthly article:
"On October 10, 1963, U.S. Attorney General Robert
F. Kennedy committed what is widely viewed as one of the most
ignominious acts in modern American history: he authorized the Federal
Bureau of Investigation to begin wiretapping the telephones of the
Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Kennedy believed that one of King's
closest advisers was a top-level member of the American Communist
Party, and that King had repeatedly misled Administration officials
about his ongoing close ties with the man."
I’m having a hard time understanding Chris Matthews lately. On the one hand, in the past couple of months, his Sunday program has been by far the most balanced of the broadcast network political talk shows save “The McLaughlin Group.” Yet, something odd happens when he steps on the soundstage of MSNBC to host “Hardball” – his ultra-left, San Francisco Chronicle columnist side emerges…and then some.
Tuesday’s installment was a perfect example. In fact, Matthews’ San Francisco liberal side came out so strongly that he should be ashamed of his performance. First, he spent much of the hour gushing over former president Bill Clinton’s “passing of the torch” to his wife at Coretta Scott King’s funeral. Then, he actually compared bloggers to Danish cartoonists. Finally, during a discussion concerning King’s funeral, he didn’t have the spine to suggest to his guests what likely the majority of Americans are thinking: A funeral is not the right forum for a former American president to be condemning the policies of the current president, especially in his presence.
There's been speculation today that Democrats and their MSM allies would turn on erstwhile hero John McCain in the wake of his breathtakingly critical letter to Illinois Sen. Barack Obama - whom we are legally required to refer to as "a rising star of the Democratic party."
But at least one MSMer with impeccable Dem credentials - Chris Matthews - was reveling in the cat fight this evening.
Obama and McCain apparently had a gentlemen's agreement that they would cooperate in a bi-partisan way on a lobbying reform bill. But it seems that Obama back-tracked, withdrew from the agreement, and came out in support of Dem leader Harry Reid's highly partisan proposal.
McCain unloaded on Obama with a letter he made public containing, among others, these jabs:
On last night's (Monday's) Hardball NBC's Andrea Mitchell portrayed Hillary Clinton as a centrist in defense of Ken Mehlman's charges of Hillary Clinton being too angry. Hardball host Chris Matthews postulated that Republicans were playing the gender card in portraying Hillary Clinton as emotional. Mitchell said that it wasn't necessarily a gender-based attack but agreed that the it was an attempt to "demonize her," and "try to make her seem more extreme than I think she really is."
Mitchell also used the terminology of the far-left in referring to pro-life Democratic Senate candidate Bob Casey as "anti-choice."
The following is the complete exchange between Matthews and Mitchell:
Picking up on President Bush’s assurance, in his Tuesday night State of the Union address, that military decisions in Iraq will be made by military leaders, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough rejected the notion of any such military independence, but during ABC’s coverage, when Charles Gibson similarly questioned if the military will be able to determine troop levels, retired General Jack Keane, Vice Chief of Staff of U.S. Army from 1999-2003, maintained that the feared political pressure is an illusion. Matthews asserted that the Generals in Iraq were not “really given the freedom to say how many troops they needed because when Shinseki said this is going to take a couple of hundred thousand troops, not a hundred thousand troops, he was cashiered. So this idea that these guys are free to think out loud, I thought, has been yet to be proven." Scarborough echoed: “They parrot, for the most part, the Generals and the Admirals, 99 percent of them parrot” the Pentagon. Keane contended on ABC that the idea that “the military commanders are under some kind of pressure from the administration” is false and military commanders will “call the shots as they see them.” (Transcripts follow.)
President Bush didn’t play for with Democrats in 2002, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews complained to Senator John McCain just before 11pm EST Tuesday night. Raising how in his State of the Union address Bush had made an “appeal for comity, for civility,” Matthews charged when Bush wanted authorization for military action against Iraq, “he jammed that vote right up against the election of 2002. That wasn't a very civil thing to do, to force the Democrats to vote right before an election to give him basically full authorization to do what he wanted to do, but wouldn't say what it was. Was that a civil move?" McCain rejected Matthews’ premise and reminded Matthews of how “we had taken a vote during the Clinton administration that had called for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.” Matthews countered: "But that was by democratic means, not by war." (Transcript of the exchange follows.)
At the conclusion of his interview with Senator George Allen, Hardball host Chris Matthews issued a preview for the upcoming segment after a commercial break. The next segment would cover the meaning of the alleged photographs of President Bush pictured with Jack Abramoff. Matthews said that President Bush is "horny for those pictures".
MATTHEWS: Up next, will we ever see those pictures of Jack Abramoff and The President. We're all looking for them, the President is horny for those pictures, you're watching Hardball on MSNBC.
Host Chris Matthews interviewed White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan's mother, Carole Keeton Strayhorn, on Hardball last night. Strayhorn is running for Governor of Texas as an Independent. She is the current Comptroller of Texas and held the position as a Republican for over twenty years. She recently made the switch to an independent because she wanted to get rid of "partisan politics". Matthews, however, took her party change as a sign of anger with the Republican Party because it is "corrupt". Matthews brought up the subject of her party change many times during the interview and repeatedly tried to get her to say she left the party because of corruption, as if she had an ulterior motive. At one point in the interview he tried to link current Governor, Rick Perry (R) with Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay.
The interview included questions like “Did you leave the Republican party because of Rick Perry?”, “Are you a conservative”, and “Do you feel that Republicans have left their fiscal conservative roots”.
MSNBC “Hardball” host Chris Matthews got himself into some hot water Thursday evening when he suggested that Osama bin Laden in his recently released tape sounded “like an over-the-top Michael Moore here, if not a Michael Moore” (video link to follow). On last night’s installment, Matthews invited on MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough to discuss this issue in greater detail (video link to follow).
After being asked by Matthews if bin Laden was playing politician, Scarborough moved the discussion in a media direction: “You look at, like, for instance, him saying that George Bush went to war because of -- because he wanted to help his buddies out, his oil buddies out. Well, that sounds a lot like not only Michael Moore, it also sounds like Ted Kennedy who said this whole thing was invented, this war was invented in Texas by Karl Rove to help his political supporters out.”
Last night I reported that Chris Matthews lied and misquoted Laura Bush in the Wednesday evening edition of Hardball. Matthews claimed -- and said it no less than three times -- that the First Lady said "God wants New Orleans to be rebuilt". On tonight's program, Matthews showed the correct quote in a visual, however did not say anything about the misquotation or issue an apology. The screen capture on the right reads "I think it's ridiculous. It's a ridiculous comment - That's what I think".
On last night's edition of Hardball, Chris Matthews made up a quote that First Lady Laura Bush did not say. Matthews claims that Bush said "God wants us to rebuild New Orleans", when no such words came out of her mouth. However, Bush did say "she didn't really think she could speak for God" and then added that she "believes Nagin wants New Orleans to be rebuilt".
On a various segments, Matthews claimed that Bush said "God wants us to rebuild New Orleans" and questioned several guests about it. One of those guests, adviser of Former President George H. W. Bush's Strategist Ed Rogers, was called "ignorant" for not knowing this and not commenting on it. Matthews later brought it up when interviewing Mike Allen of Time Magazine, saying that she said the "same thing" as Mayor Ray Nagin did.
After NBC's Andrea Mitchell attacked Laura Bush when she called her a "potent political weapon" and says that Bush can say "partisan things without appearing partisan", she defends Hillary Clinton's recent comparison of the House with a slave plantation. Mitchell says that Republicans, specifically Newt Gingrich, can "get away with it", while Clinton "can say the same thing" and anything "controversial" will be used to "bludgeon her". She also notes that Clinton "has to be extra special careful" because she is "the opposite of the Teflon first lady".
She adds that Hillary was "with a friendly audience" and speaking to an "audience that wanted to hear that", which apparently makes it okay to make the comments according to Mitchell.
Apparently even Chris Matthews has his limits when it comes to swallowing Dem BS. The proof came on tonight's Hardball, when Matthews clearly wasn't buying Al Sharpton's transparently lame defense of Hillary Clinton's allegation, at an MLK Day event, that "the House of Representatives has been run like a plantation, and you know what I'm talking about."
Sharpton's theater of the absurd reached its apotheosis when he claimed that Hillary "did not make the comments at a Harlem church". Even the New York Times had to admit that she had spoken in "at the Canaan Baptist Church of Christ in Harlem," and Hardball rolled footage of her speaking at a lectern in the church draped with fabric decorated with a cross.
On tonight's edition of Hardball, host Chris Matthews makes it look like that we would not being this way if it wasn't for the oil resources in Iraq. His proof? Because Vice President Cheney CEO of Halliburton.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Why is the President saying it's wrong to say this war was about oil or Israel. I can see where the Israel part would be sensitive, but why is he denying this was about oil? Does he think anybody think we would go into Iraq if it was down in the Congo or Bolivia. It's oil that makes that such a sensitive area, isn't it?
RICHARD HAASS: On one level, you're right. It's the strategic background to everything we do in the Persian Gulf. But it is fair to say that oil was not the thing that led the United States to pull the trigger. The people who are arguing for this war were not basing it on access to oil. They were arguing it on weapons of mass destruction, on the idea we would transform Iraq or the region politically. This was not a war about control of oil.
MATTHEWS: Even though there were promises made around the edges that we would get cheaper gas?
HAASS: Some people thought that. But as you know now, it's producing less oil been of that the war it was never a war about gaining oil supplies. It's always the left that talks about the economic motives to American foreign policy. The kind of thing the Marxists did for years, they were wrong then and they're wrong now.American foreign policy -- for better or for worse -- tends to be motivated by ideas, not things like oil.
MATTHEWS: Do you think that's true of Cheney?
HAASS: Very much.
MATTHEWS: Really? I think of the first resident Bush and Jimmy Baker who said the issue of going into Iraq the first time was jobs, jobs, jobs, he was right there saying it wasw about oil. These are guys from the oil patch. You've got a Vice President from Halliburton. You're telling me this has nothing to do with oil, that fact that we're over there fighting these wars?
During the time Matthews was going on about his conspiracy theories of why (the last thing he said) we're over there because of oil, Richard Haass was laughing.
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On last night's (Monday's) Hardball Norah O'Donnell, subbing for Chris Matthews, threw out the old feminist canards about the gender and wage gaps at National Review's Kate O'Beirne. During her description of her new book Women Who Make the World Worse, O'Beirne called the gender gap, "phony," to which O'Donnell blurted: "But there is a gender gap! There is a gender gap that exists, that, that there are more women who vote for Democrats. This President tried to court the so-called security moms. There is a gender gap. Men and women vote differently." Then later in the interview O'Donnell brought up the wage gap: "But don’t you think feminists, to some degree, have at least brought attention to issues like inequity in health care. That there isn’t amount the same amount of research on women as men. That they brought attention to the issue that women are still paid less than men." O'Beirne adroitly dispelled the myths as you can see in the following exchange:
It's always curious when liberal-media types start hailing the brilliance of conservatives when their arguments line up with liberal wishes. Since the Jack Abramoff plea, both Newt Gingrich and National Review Online have suggested it would be nice for House Republicans to find a Majority Leader with a more reformist image. To MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews, these people are suddenly brilliant and impressive, as he declared in a "Today" pundit segment on Friday. MRC's Scott Whitlock took it down yesterday.
"Well, Newt Gingrich isn't, maybe, the most popular guy in the country. But he is ruthlessly brilliant. And he knows that this is the time to nail this guy. And he's going out and said, let's get rid of Delay, now. And you've got the National Review, the historically conservative, very impressive magazine all these years for the conservative movement, started by Bill Buckley. That's come out now and called for him to get out of the way. I think the big casualty here, to the delight of the liberals and chagrin of the people who helped build the Republican majorities, Tom Delay looks like victim number one here. I'm not sure the party's going to be the victim by next November. Because one of the great ironies of politics is that when you get the body out of the way, the party that suffered the loss doesn't seem to look so bad."
Before introducing his guest Byron York, Matthews gave the following segue:
Now The National Review, one of the staunchest defenders, a big conservative magazine has said Delay must go.
The above statement was followed with "we're joined right now by Byron York of The National Review and Katrina Vanden Heuvel of The Nation." There was no mention that The Nation is a liberal magazine or that Katrina Vanden Heuvel is a staunch liberal.
York was asked the first question about the recent scandal involving former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and was hurried and cut off to give his answer. When Vanden Heuvel was asked a similar question, she was given all the time to answer it with a liberal spin. In fact, she praised Sen. Russ Feingold (D) for having "one of the best lobbying and ethics reforms plans". Not so quick, Katrina. The National Republican Senatorial Committee is reporting that Sen. Feingold has received at least $1,250 from Abramoff or his associates. I guess the saying is right, people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Of course host Chris Matthews didn't question her, in fact he just completely changed the subject.
As 2005 winds down, it's a good time to recall some of the worst journalistic moments of the year. The Media Research Center polled 52 distinguished media experts -- talk show hosts, columnists, journalism professors and other keen observers -- who generously supplied their picks for The Best Notable Quotables of 2005.
A few of the highlights:
Newsweek's Managing Editor Jon Meacham won the "Madness of King George Award for Bush Bashing" for recoiling when the current President toured the former captive nations of Eastern Europe and apologized for the deal FDR made with Stalin back at Yalta in 1945: "It’s like he stuck a broomstick in his wheelchair wheels," Meacham complained on MSNBC.
Anyone who thought Hardball with Chris Matthews couldn't get any more antagonistic to the Bush administration should have watched the show with Norah O'Donnell substituting tonight. Not that Matthews is exactly Mr. Fair & Balanced, but Norah didn't even attempt to disguise her disdain for all things Republican.
For her first panel, the two lawyers she chose to discuss the Plame matter fell over each other in agreeing that it was absolutely inescapable that Karl Rove would be indicted. Even that wasn't quite enough to satisfy Norah, as she avidly inquired as to the prospects that VP Cheney would face prosecution.
Norah took a parting shot suggesting that revelations by DC lobbyist Jack Abramoff could lead to congressional indictments, mentioning only Republicans DeLay and Ney as possible targets despite Abramoff's ecumenism in doling out donations across party lines.
Chris Matthews might be off tonight, but with Andrea Mitchell sitting in, the hysterical anti-Bush beat goes on at Hardball.
Mitchell interviewed a panel in which far-left Jonathan Alter was 'balanced' by the politically-androgynous David Gergen.
When Alter surmised that the impeachment of President Bush is a real possibility in light of the NSA surveillance matter, Mitchell, rather than bursting into laughter, asked Gergen with a straight face:
"Are we headed toward a constitutional crisis?"
Gergen didn't seem to think so, but, ever the suck-up, later bent over backwards to congratulate Alter on his "excellent" column in Newsweek.
Newsweek correspondant Howard Fineman and New York Times' writer Anne Kornblut appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews to discuss the Times report that the NSA was given permission by the Bush administration to spy on potential terrorists. This report just so happened to be printed on the front page of the Times a day after the successful election in Iraq. Surprisingly, Chris Matthews wanted to get the reason why the newspaper decided to print this information on the front page when the historic event in Iraq should have been the only story receiving big headlines. Matthews asked Kornblut "why did you break it today", only to get a simple response that "there was room in the paper". Matthews later followed up with "you have no criticism on this" [referring to the Times' decision to put this on the front page], Kornblut said "I was working on other things today so I don't know". How convenient.