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?"
Substitute hosting for Chris Matthews on last night's Hardball it didn't take long for David Shuster to bring up the specter of gun control in the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting. Shuster indicated that gun policies actually "enabled" the shooter to obtain his "weapons of choice." The following was Shuster's intro for the April 16th edition of "Hardball."
David Shuster: "At this hour, investigators are still trying to piece together what happened this morning on the Virginia Tech campus. Tonight, we will tell you everything we've learned about the killer's motive. We will bring you the most gripping interviews we have seen today from students who witnessed the rampage and tried to block the killer's path. And you will hear live from witnesses who saw the aftermath. Many questions are lingering tonight about the response by campus police, warnings to Virginia Tech students, even gun policies that enabled the killer to get his hands on his weapons of choice. But we start tonight with a campus community was rocked to its core and asking the question, why us?"
On last night's Hardball NBC's Jonathan Alter managed to shoe-horn an anti-Bush jab during a discussion about Don Imus. When substitute host David Gregory asked Alter to comment on what the Imus flare-up meant for the overall discussion about race, NBC's contributing correspondent made a tortured argument that the uproar over Imus was a sign of "a thirst" from the public for the kind of accountability that they're not getting from the Bush administration.
The following conversation occurred on the April 10th Hardball:
David Gregory: "Jonathan, let me start with you. We talked a little bit earlier on the phone about whether this incident has created a race moment for America. Do you think that is the case? And how would you define that?"
On Tuesday's Hardball on MSNBC, substitute host David Gregory pressed civil rights activist and Reverend Al Sharpton over his double standard in condemning Don Imus's racist comments while refusing to apologize for his own role in the Tawana Brawley false rape accusations against white police officers. Gregory: "You didn't go as far as apologizing to the people who you hurt through that incident. This was, the courts have concluded, a hoax, accusations against whites by a young black woman about a race-based assault. A court ordered you to pay restitution for a defamation suit against people whose reputation you hurt. You didn't apologize for that."
Andrea Mitchell and Chris Matthews orchestrated a rather obvious flip-flop Monday of a controversial statement the former made on the “Chris Matthews Show” the day before.
In a nutshell, Matthews’ Sunday panel was discussing the politics of Iraq. During several instances, Mitchell stated that Gen. David Petraeus had recently had a private meeting with the Republican caucus promising progress in the embattled nation by August.
The next day on “Hardball,” Matthews, in the middle of a discussion about presidential candidates, suddenly asked Mitchell about Petraeus. She answered by stating the general had recently addressed both Republicans and Democrats about progress in Iraq, after which the discussion quickly reverted back to presidential candidates (video available here).
Here's what Mitchell said Sunday that apparently needed correcting:
Lt. Col. Rick Francona (USAF Retired) is an MSNBC military analyst who also writes for the network's "Hardblogger" blog. But while Francona has plenty of thoughts on how to deal with Iran's hostage-taking and on the notion of setting a withdrawal deadline for U.S. troops in Iraq, a review of Nexis showed zero hits for Francona on MSNBC recently, and only one appearance on NBC's "Nightly News" the day after the British servicement were taken hostage. And even then, he was featured with a sound bite about the Pat Tillman investigation.
WITHDRAWAL DATE FOR IRAQ AIDS THE ENEMY (March 23)
GULF ARABS DRAW A RED LINE AGAINST IRAN (March 19)
The 15 British sailors and Royal Marines were captured on March 23. Francona has written more on Iran specifically and the Middle East in general, it's just not all been posted to MSNBC's Web site. Francona runs his own Web log, Middle East Perspectives, and has a few additional posts in the same time period, including one dated March 25 explaining the long-disputed Shatt al-Arab waterway in which Iran captured its British hostages.
So given Francona's expertise and his being on the MSNBC payroll, he's been pretty busy appearing on air, right?
Well, a Nexis search for "Rick Francona" among MSNBC documents from March 19-April 3 turned up no hits.
Chris Matthews attacked campaign fund donations to Mitt Romney last night on Hardball, calling the entire system of political fund raising "unsavory" along with claiming that Romney's contributors in particular are all "rich people" and people who are "loaded". In fact, he didn't seem to understand at all why anyone would even donate to a Romney campaign because he thinks everyone sees him as a "stranger".
In a report that was supposed to be about this first round of fund raising of all the candidates, Matthews found no time in a ten minute segment to even mention the many millions of dollars raised by Democrats, focusing almost entirely on his distrust of Romney, even though Romney raised far less than Clinton.
As a devout conservative, I must say that I was shocked – shocked I tell you, shocked! – to find out that I don’t like sex. Alas, if Chris Matthews says so, who am I to question it, right?
With that in mind, I think all readers need to brace themselves for the truth according to the all-knowing, all-seeing, wisest man in the world as presented on Friday's "Hardball."
We must learn from the sage, ladies and gentlemen, as he explains why liberals are focused on important issues like “poverty, injustice, and racism, and nuclear war,” while “conservatives don’t like sex” (video available here courtesy of our friend Ms Underestimated):
Time magazine's cover story image as reality? Displaying a mini-instance of pack journalism, MSNBC and CNN shows on Thursday afternoon and night pounced on Time magazine's cover story, “The Verdict on Cheney” beside a picture of Cheney under some dark clouds, as evidence Cheney's influence is declining in the White House in the wake of the Scooter Libby verdict. It may be, but the graphics on a magazine cover hardly proves it. Plugging an interview with Michael Duffy, the author of the cover story, MSNBC's Chris Matthews asserted on Hardball: “More coming here about amazing problems facing the Vice President. He's on the cover of Time magazine as we speak and it looks bad.”
On CNN's Paula Zahn Now, Zahn trumpeted how “tonight we're bring out into the open Vice President Cheney's downhill slide” which is “not pretty” and is illustrated by, as she instructed viewers, “Look at the cover of the new Time magazine: The Vice President under a dark cloud. The headline: 'The Verdict on Cheney.' The story inside even brands him as 'the enemy within' the White House, dragging the whole administration down with him." Over on MSNBC's Countdown at the same 8pm EST hour, fill-in host Alison Stewart highlighted how “special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald referred to the quote, 'cloud over the Vice President' in his summation at the Libby trial. The folks at Time magazine painting that cloud over Mr. Cheney quite literally in their art for the new cover story, going as far as to call him quote, 'one of Bush's biggest liabilities.'"
The headline is that Ann Redington, Libby juror #10, wants Scooter to get a pardon. But there's actually a bigger story. It is Redington herself. If you have a chance to watch a replay of her appearance on this afternoon's Hardball, billed as an exclusive, I'd urge you to do so. She is enough to renew one's faith in the goodness and intelligence of our fellow Americans.
As Matthews observed, Redington demonstrated an impressive ability to separate the wheat from the chaff in the trial, and appeared open, honest and without any political ax to grind.
View video here. The clip is longer than usual because I consider Redington's comments to be of historical and cultural significance.
Excerpts from the interview:
Matthews: "What did you think of Scooter?"
Re: I thought he seemed like a really nice guy. It wouldn't matter if he were a nice guy or not, the whole thing was obviously very difficult to have someone's future in your hands. But he seemed like a ton of fun."
It didn't take long for Chris Matthews to launch into his rant against Dick Cheney after news of the Lewis Libby verdict broke. Just 11 minutes into MSNBC's live coverage of the Libby decision the Cheney-obsessed Matthews to jumped into his anti-Iraq war routine as he repeated Patrick Fitzgerald's charge there the is now "a cloud" around the Vice President. Matthews also asserted Cheney was "now in the cross-hairs of national debate," and charged "This isn't like a hunting accident where he can walk away for two days and let someone else answer the questions. He's gonna have to answer the questions. Let's see if he puts out a statement. If it's anything more than remorse, well let's hope that it's something more than remorse because there's a lot of questions here."
I seem to be detecting a trend. There's a current in the MSM that fears Rudy Giuliani, perhaps sensing he might be best positioned to defeat the Dem candidate. Such folks console themselves by clinging to the belief that the GOP won't nominate Rudy, or at least won't avidly support him if he is the candidate, given his liberal positions on some issues.
This evening's Hardball offered a perfect example of the phenomenon in the person of Craig Crawford. Time and again, the MSNBC analyst returned to the theme:
"Getting onto the social conservative stuff: abortion, gay rights, etc., [Rudy at CPAC] did make the case that I'm 80% with you, better than most marriages, a pretty good line, but at the end of the day, they're important issues to these people, and I just really wonder, the more they learn about him, and just how liberal he really is on those issues, I think it's going to matter to them."
"Maybe I've just covered these social conservatives and these Republican races for too long to believe they're suddenly going to forget about that stuff, no matter how much they like Giuliani otherwise."
"I think if Giuliani wins this nomination, and he well could, social conservative voters are not going to play in the general election, and that's going to help Democrats."
"I really do believe a lot of these [socially conservative] voters and a lot of these groups are losing interest in politics."
"I don't think they've heard all the details of his personal life, and the judges [the liberal ones in NYC Rudy appointed] we're talking about."
Jim Vandehei, ex of WaPo, now with Politico.com, was dubious of Crawford's notion: "I think that the conventional wisdom must be wrong, this idea that once conservatives get to know Giuliani's record. I mean, how can they not know his record? Everybody's talking about it."
Explaining how Hillary Clinton isn't as popular with African-American voters as Bill was, MSNBC's Chris Matthews pointed to the former president's verbal skills as one of the reasons why when he proclaimed: "There are times when he sounds like Jesus in the temple." Matthews made that observation during a discussion with the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson where both cited Bill Clinton's performance at Coretta Scott King's funeral as a prime example of Slick Willie's oratory abilities. The following exchange took place about 30 minutes into last night's Hardball:
Eugene Robinson: "I mean, it's the one memorable speech from, from that funeral."
If there were any doubt as to the degree to which the MSM loathes and distrusts President Bush, it should be dispelled by the performance of Sy Hersh on today's Hardball and the way he was applauded by Chris Matthews. At the end of Hersh's appearance, Matthews put this question to the investigative reporter:
"What's your biggest worry in the world? Is it Iran? Is it this administration going to war with Iran? Is it a civil war in Iraq? Is it Musharraf's inability to fight the Taliban on his own soil? What's your biggest worry?"
On last night's Hardball, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams unintentionally slammed Chris Matthews on his own show. Discussing Walter Cronkite's famous declaration of U.S defeat in Vietnam, Williams claimed it was a watershed moment because the former CBS anchor had earned the "credibility" of his viewers but warned today's anchors can't have the same effect because: "People do Cronkite-esque statements on topics every day now. On, on cable, you can see one an hour." Williams was probably referencing Matthews' competitors but as any regular viewer of Hardball knows the charge is easily applied to his NBC colleague as Matthews is constantly making his own "Cronkite-esqe" declarations of U.S. defeat in Iraq.
Hey NBC your double-standards are showing! On last night's Hardball, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams was in awe of the Clinton spin machine as he called them "pros" and "good leakers" but MSNBC correspondent David Shuster labeled Dick Cheney's behavior in the Scooter Libby leak case as "ruthless," and "obsessed."
First up Hardball host, Chris Matthews, asked Williams for his take on Hillary Clinton's rapid defense in her David Geffen-fueled spat with Barack Obama. Williams, seemed to admire the Clinton machine's prowess in both past and current crises, as he admitted: "They were pros politically. They were good leakers. They were good attackers, and they were good defenders.Hillary Rodham Clinton has some pros working for her.We've had some experience with them, all of us in this business have."
Thursday night's edition of "30 Rock" will feature the character of Jenna (played by Jane Krakowski) appearing on an episode of "Hardball" with Chris Matthews. Matthews is no stranger to entertainment. Last year, he appeared in the Robin Williams movie "Man of the Year" and also showed up in another citizen/politician movie, "Dave" with Kevin Kline, in 1993. He's also been around the NBC-TV carousel before, with "The West Wing" and with the short-lived young-senator drama "Mister Sterling." Tucker Carlson will also appear on the sitcom's promotion of MSNBC.
Over at Fox News, "The Half-Hour News Hour" bagged 1.48 million viewers in its Sunday night debut, landing it on the ratings "Winners" list at the Washington Post, which noted "That's about 80 percent more viewers than FNC has averaged in that slot in the first quarter." The Post also noted its competition, "The Daily Show," averaged 1.57 million viewers from last Monday to Thursday.
Having gotten myself and others into a spot of bother when I wondered awhile ago whether there might have been some "trickeration" involved in an image appearing on Hillary's campaign website, far be it from me to suggest that there's anything altered in the photo displayed here. It turned up today in a Clinton fundraising email I received. Yes, I'm a duly member-registered member at HillaryClinton.com.
But I do believe the photo raises another issue. Chris Matthews recently and repeatedly raised concerns that Bill's failure to "behave" could cause problems for Hillary's campaign. Hillary has now chosen an image making an implicit statement about the nature of her relationship with Bill. Since she has put the matter on the table, will the MSM do anything to verify -- or debunk -- the photo's unstated but unmistakable suggestion?
On last night's Hardball Chris Matthews, interviewing Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, was peeved that Democrats weren't pushing hard enough to have a vote on the surge. Citing polls in opposition to the surge a flustered Matthews worried Democrats were going to roll over for the President and demanded Hoyer not let the President ignore Democrats like he ignored Katrina. In the first segment of the February 14th, Hardball Matthews declared to Hoyer: "He is gonna treat you, the first branch of the Constitution, as if you're Katrina, not to be paid attention to."
The following is the full question from Matthews:
Chris Matthews: "Well, we have a new poll that shows that seven, seven out of 10 Americans are watching Congress to see how they vote on this and they say that they vote and they say that if they vote the wrong way, they're going to remember that come election time. You know, Mr. Leader, you and I were grew up in a country where presidents were very attune to Congress and respectful of it, especially those who came out of Congress like Lyndon Johnson and John F. Kennedy and even Richard Nixon. They watched the Congress, they paid attention to it and they cared about its legislative duties. This President, and I know you respect him as we do, as President, but he came out and said the other day that he's not even gonna bother watching the floor debate. He doesn't even want to hear about it. He's got other things to do. He is gonna treat you, the first branch of the Constitution, as if you're Katrina, not to be paid attention to. Does that bother you constitutionally that the President doesn't think that this major debate on war is something he's not even gonna bother to watch on television?"
It's one thing for Chip Reid or David Gregory to give Mitt Romney a hard time over his abortion position change, as I documented here and here. But on this evening's Hardball, Chris Matthews took it to a fiery new level, and Pat Buchanan got into the act.
Matthews: "This is like the kind of conversions you had in Spain in the old bad days where if you were Jewish, you were Christian the next day or you were burned alive!"
The screencap shows Chris Matthews giving Pat an approving finger as the paleo-con posed and answered his own question:
"Do I believe these are sincere, honest conversions of Rudy or Romney? In my judgment, probably not. I think they're changing their positions for political reasons. And you either accept that or you take the alternative which may be Hillary Rodham Clinton."
This week, Chris Matthews' anti-Bush bigotry spilled over into a profanity laden rant. The "Hardball" host dropped the F-bomb during a live interview with Don Imus.
Meanwhile, CNN’s Paula Zahn connected opposition of illegal immigration to, you guessed it, the Ku Klux Klan. This is the same network, however, that tried to downplay proven religious bigotry by a blogger for the John Edwards campaign.
Over on ABC, "Good Morning America" anchor Diane Sawyer spent the week in Syria. She let the despotism of President Bashar Assad go mostly unchallenged.
During other segments, Sawyer chose to ask him about video games and whether he uses an iPod.
Has Chris Matthews watched one too many episodes of "Oz," the hyper-graphic HBO original series about prison life?
Discussing the Scooter Libby trial on the 7 PM ET edition of this evening's Hardball, Chris spun a sanguine scenario in which Libby, facing the prospect of a long prison sentence in a vulnerable environment, might turn on Vice-President Cheney.
Matthews: "If Scooter's convicted, if you're looking at the number of counts facing him. If that jury really does go to town -- and I hope they're not watching -- and hits him with four or five counts, they add up to big time in some federal penitentiary, not necessarily Allenwood [known as the country club of federal prisons]. Someplace where a guy like Scooter Libby would not bevery protected from the fellow prisoners. If he faces 20 years somewhere in maximum security, he's going to think again about his situation, isn't he?"
Rajiv Chandrasekaran was the Baghdad bureau chief for the Washington Post during the tenure of Paul Bremer as head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in the period succeeding the removal of Saddam Hussein. Chandrasekaran is the author of Imperial Life in the Emerald City, a book generally critical of Bremer's administration -- but apparently not critical enough for Chris Matthews. Chandrasekaran was Matthews' guest on today's Hardball.
At one point, Matthews launched this vulgar leading question about Bremer:
"Did this guy blow it? Was he a joke? Was he an arse on a golden horse?"
There's nothing like the day an Italian-American Republican moves toward announcing his presidential candidacy for musing as to whether he might have a whiff of fascism about him. As reported here, Rudy Giuliani inched closer to running for president today by filing a so-called "statement of candidacy" with the Federal Election Commission, indicating that he would seek the presidency as a Republican should he decide to go forward.
Chris Matthews had Rudy supporter and former congresswoman Susan Molinari as a guest on this afternoon's Hardball. In the course of discussing the way in which Rudy managed to clean up NYC, Matthews and Molinari had the following exchange:
Does Chris Matthews know something about what Bill Clinton's been up to, so to speak?
Not once, not twice, but no fewer than 12 times in under two minutes on Friday's Hardball, Matthews raised the question of whether the former president would "behave himself," not cause "distractions" with his "private life," etc. Chris' guest was Hillary confidant and campaign aide Ann Lewis, who is also sister to Rep. Barney Frank.