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?"
Norah O'Donnell was the guest host on this evening's Hardball. Discussing the arrest of seven alleged domestic terrorists charged with plotting to blow up the Sears Tower among other targets, O'Donnell asked her panel of 'Hardball Hotshots': "where is this hatred coming from?"
Mike Barnicle was first to propose a socio/psychological explanation: "Freedom, the freedoms we have here. Liberty, the liberties we have here, the isolation that many people feel from our society. . . Poverty, mental illness is part of it."
Norah loves Larry. At least, she loves the way Larry Eagleburger phrased things about North Korea. At the same time, Eagleburger made clear there's no love lost between himself and Dick Cheney, taking some surprisingly acerbic shots at the Veep.
The former Bush, Sr. Secretary of State appeared on this evening's Hardball. Guest host Norah O'Donnell interviewed him along with former Clinton defense official Ashton Carter. Carter had in turn written an op-ed in today's Washington Post, which as indicated by its title, If Necessary, Strike and Destroy, advocates blowing the North Korean ICBM off its launch pad if N. Korea persists in its launch preparations.
In America, people are innocent until proven guilty, unless of course they are Republican.
No finer example of such legal relativism has occurred in recent memory than the case of President Bush’s top advisor, Karl Rove. For months, virtually every mainstream media outlet proclaimed his guilt regarding the Valerie Plame Wilson affair, or what has been not so affectionately named the CIA-leak case.
Take for example the media’s excitement over pending indictments for Rove. This hit a fevered pitch last fall as Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, after almost two years of research, depositions, and grand jury testimonies, was about to announce his findings on October 28.
Sadly for the drive-by media, no indictments were handed down for Rove that day.
As a result, restaurateurs and bar owners around the country were likely forced to give back millions of dollars in deposits for all the “Rove is Going to Jail” parties that ended up being cancelled by disappointed Democrats coast to coast.
However, hope – which some ironically claim springs eternal – reemerged in late April when Rove appeared in front of a grand jury for the fifth time to answer more of Fitzgerald’s questions. This re-ignited a media firestorm of enthusiasm
On Monday, movie star/director Robert Redford appeared on "Hardball" to discuss environmentalism. Hardballs weren't really expected. (Remember Chris Matthews fawning over Jane Fonda?) MRC's Geoff Dickens found that Redford sounded predictable notes about how Bush and Cheney were "living in the '50s" with their energy policies, driven by their oil riches and narrow minds. Al Gore's film showed that green groups had idealism comparable to JFK and Martin Luther King. So why can't the Democrats win? They're too "open to all points of view."
Matthews began, predictably, by praising Redford's activism and this great new moment to be green:
In the Clinton years, the Clintons fans loathed Chris Matthews, locating him firmly inside the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. In the Bush years, Matthews is whacked regularly by the left and by the right. On Monday, MRC's Geoff Dickens found him sounding just like another disgruntled member of MoveOn.org as he interviewed John Murtha: the Democrats are too conservative.
“Why are the Democrats so conservative on this war? I was looking at the, the, the fundraising money. Is the fact that the Democrats are getting a lot of fat cat money no, more conservative people contributing to the party, an explanation of, if you were getting your money from college professors, you wouldn’t have this problem. You’re getting it from rich people. You’re catching up, in fact, passing the Republicans in fundraising. Is this steering the Democratic party to a more conservative position on the war, the money?”
You can almost imagine Chris Matthews wracking his brain as the minutes counted down to Hardball hitting the air this evening. He couldn't permit Pres. Bush's surprise trip to Iraq to stand as an unalloyed triumph. Was Matthews bouncing possible lines off his producers and assistants?
In any case, Chris gave it his best Holy Cross try. Opening the show, he mused:
"The bravado of visiting Baghdad helps Bush, but does it hurt Iraq's new Prime Minister to have the American president look like a boss on an inspection tour?"
Matthews ran the same line up the flagpole when when NBC's Richard Engel came on. Reporting live from Baghdad, Engel at first weakly saluted but - to his credit - ultimately offered a different take.
The host might be different, but the partisan bias is the same.
Norah O'Donnell sat in for Chris Matthews on this evening's Hardball. The first half hour was devoted to a discussion of Haditha, with Norah making frequent allusions to a "failure of leadership" and wondering why President Bush didn't know the facts and disclose them to the press sooner.
But speaking of disclosure . . . Norah didn't find it necessary to disclose to viewers that two of her three guests were partisan Democrats.
Paul Hackett, shown in the first photo, was the Democratic candidate for Congress from Ohio's 2nd District, and later sought the Democratic senatorial nomination. But Norah introduced him only as "a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq and also ran for office in Ohio." Unsuspecting viewers might well have thought that, if anything, the Marine vet was a Republican.
For the second day running, Chris Matthews has run a Hardball segment entitled "Does Hill Fit the Bill?" It's his way of asking whether Hillary Clinton would make a good presidential candidate, and, presumably, by play-on-words, whether she's up to the political standard set by Bill.
While Matthews hasn't squarely answered his own question, he clearly seems skeptical about Hillary's personal and political qualities.
His first guest on the topic this evening was the urbane Roger Altman, Hillary adviser and a Deputy Treasury Secretary in the Clinton administration. Matthews grilled Altman on Hillary's hawkishness.
Matthews: "A lot of people in her party, maybe four out of five Democrats, especially New York Democrats, are against this war. Think we never should have gone into Iraq. Hillary on the other hand OK'd the president's authority to go to Iraq and has subsequently stuck to that position, that that was a decision that she still honors, believes in, is by most standards a hawk. How can she lead a doveish party as a hawk?"
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."