Apparently stung by criticism of his comments on last night's Hardball, Brian Williams has responded with a clarification at the Daily Nightly, the in-house blog of the NBC Nightly News. In doing so, Williams seems to have coined a new phrase, claiming to have been 'aggressively misunderstood' by his critics.
As noted here, on last evening's 7 PM Hardball, Chris Matthews asked Williams about the latest terror plot members who were "people who have lived in London and England and the free world for all these years that become citizens, subjects of the Crown, and, yet, after having gotten to know us, they want to kill themselves to hurt us."
Responded Williams: "And that, Chris, that last aspect, the willingness to take one's own life -- I always tell people there are guys on our team like that, too. They're called Army Rangers and Navy Seals and the Special Forces folks and the first responders on 9/11 who went into those buildings knowing, by the way, they weren't going to come out. So we have players like that on our team."
Brian Williams of "NBC Nightly News" surely intended to praise the heroism and selflessness of our various service people. But he employed at best an awkward, at worst an inappropriate and offensive manner of doing it.
On this evening's 7 PM ET edition of Hardball, Chris Matthews mused about the UK-born terrorists whose plot was foiled today:
"Here we have maybe 24 people who have lived in London and England and the free world for all these years that become citizens, subjects of the Crown, and, yet, after having gotten to know us, they want to kill themselves to hurt us. Isn't that an even deeper conundrum here than the chemicals being used in these attacks?"
Williams [appearing from London's Heathrow airport]: "And that, Chris, that last aspect, the willingness to take one's own life -- I always tell people there are guys on our team like that, too. They're called Army Rangers and Navy Seals and the Special Forces folks and the first responders on 9/11 who went into those buildings knowing, by the way, they weren't going to come out. So we have players like that on our team."
That didn't take long. Just yesterday, Ned Lamont was the netroot hero, the pride of MoveOn.org, the scourge of the GOP. Today, Dem nomination in hand, he began his run toward the center - with a little help from his MSM friends.
On this evening's Hardball, Chris Matthews scoffed at the fact that the RNC put Lamont's picture up on its website alongside Michael Moore, Markos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos, Howard Dean, and John Murtha. Well, let's see: Dean via his DFA organization openly campaigned for Lamont over Lieberman. Daily Kos put itself totally in the service of Lamont. As for Moore and Murtha, can anyone point to an iota of difference between their views on Iraq and those of Lamont?
Would Matthews have scoffed had the RNC put up this actual photo showing Lamont on his victory platform surrounded by Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and NOW's Kim Gandy?
Interviewing Lamont, Matthews offered him the chance to show what a non-partisan guy he is, inviting him to name his Republican 'heroes.' Lamont mentioned Teddy Roosevelt - for busting trusts, Colin Powell, and John McCain - for being willing to buck the status quo.
An aside - Lamont noted that he disagreed with McCain on 'choice.' I don't know about you, but of all the political sleight of tongue, using 'choice' as a euphemism for abortion is one that particularly grates on me.
Mega-blogger Markos Moulitsas Zúniga of the Daily Kos talking down the blogs' influence on the Connecticut Dem primary? John Fund of the good old Wall Street Journal talking it up?
The odd couple, guests on this evening's Hardball, engaged in some serious media gender-bending. With Mike Barnicle sitting in for host Chris Matthews, Fund went first, and overflowed with praise for the role the blogs have played in the race.
Fund: "I think [the blogs' impact has] been very significant. I offer a tip of the hat to them. They have taken the former vice-presidential candidate and created a single issue around the war, and this is is a man who opposed George Bush on tax cuts, and many things, and they have turned him into the perception as George Bush's lackey, and they are on the verge of knocking off a senator. That's happened only twice before. It's remarkable."
On last night's Hardball, leftist and Pacifica radio talk show host Amy Goodman patted Chris Matthews on his back for his long held anti-war stance. Prior to a big anniversary celebration at Rockfeller Center, Goodman started to congratulate Matthews on MSNBC's 10th year in business but then took the moment to slam its executives for firing Phil Donahue for his anti-war stance. Goodman roared: "they didn't want him to be the face of this network, an anti-war face at a time when the other networks were waving the flag." However when Matthews reminded Goodman that: "if being against the war was a problem here, I'd have been out of here about four years ago, " the Democracy Now host quickly realized her error and made good by congratulating Matthews.
Those poor MSMers. They can't stand Ann Coulter. And they know that every time they vilify Ann, it only serves to drive her fame and sales of her latest book, Godless. But they just can't 'hep' themselves. They can't resist precisely the kind of mean-spirited barbs that make Ann's case and boost her bottom line.
Chris Matthews was a splendid case in point on last evening's Hardball. Consider the very first words out of Matthews mouth to Ann: "The question I have is do you have a soul? Really." See what I mean?
For your viewing pleasure, MSNBC decided to add to the Friday Night Fights series with a special Thursday edition. However, as "Hardball's" producers must have believed the challenger in the left corner, host Chris Matthews, was going to be outmatched by the challenger in the right corner, they decided to film the segment with an audience conveniently stocked with Ann Coulter haters. As a result, the fight turned more into a tag-team wrestling match than traditional mono-a-mono boxing.
It was quite evident from the onset that this was going to be a team effort by Matthews and his audience when he began:
Now, I want to know right off the front -- we`re going to use our audience in a very profane way. Who loves Ann Coulter? (APPLAUSE) Who vomits at the mention of her name? (APPLAUSE)
Nice way to introduce your guest, Chris. It seems impossible to imagine you introducing someone like Al Franken in such a fashion. Yet, Matthews wasn’t done. His next uppercut came only seconds later when he asked Coulter, “Do you have a soul?” This was followed a bit later with a right hook when Matthews said Ann was "All brain, no heart."
With that as pretext, this is a melee that must be watched to be fully appreciated. Here is the video. Pay particular attention to the people standing behind Coulter strategically placed to always be shaking their heads in disgust on virtually every one of her words. And, make sure that you have no drinking vessels around when Matthews asks Coulter to elaborate on the position she recently espoused concerning a former president’s sexual preference. (Transcript follows).
Wasn't Tucker Carlson supposed to be MSNBC's conservative counterweight to Olbermann, Matthews, & Co? I might have to rethink that one, judging by the opening roll of his 'Tucker' show this afternoon, which clearly cast Israel as the heavy in the current conflict. Here's how it went:
Open to video of an Israeli tank firing rounds, as an off-screen voice breathlessly announces "Lebanon, under siege" as the scene changes to smoke rising from an urban Lebanese landscape.
Cut to a Lebanese couple, with the woman informing us that "our house is bombed, everything is bombed."
Cut to what looks like a mosque in ruins. Announcer: "Israel's attack on Hezbollah marches on, and so does the devastating toll on civilian life."
Cut to woman in Muslim head shawl comforting distraught young boy with kiss on head.
It is axiomatic that the goal of the foreign policy of the United States should be the advancement of the interests of the United States and not of any other country, no matter how sympathetic, including Israel. That said, should it not give Chris Matthews pause that his pointed anti-neo-con spiel has become indistinguishable from the well-rehearsed Pat Buchanan line on the matter? In a weird twist, Dem hyper-partisan Bob Shrum, a supporter of Israel, was the odd man out on this evening's Hardball.
To demonstrate my point, let's play a little game. Guess who made the following statements?
A. "The neo-cons are out there complaining that this president isn't tough enough. I have no idea what they mean. 50,000 dead in Iraq - it was supposed to be a cakewalk, Ken Adelman is out there today saying we should go other places, you have other guys that want to blow up every Arab country on the list."
It wasn’t the barnburner it could have been, but there was a wonderful mini-flyweight boxing match Friday night on MSNBC’s “Hardball.” In the left corner, weighing 105 pounds, Norah O’Donnell. In the right corner, weighing 100 pounds, Ann Coulter (video to follow).
The crowd got a sense before the opening bell that O’Donnell was ready for a donnybrook when prior to Coulter even stepping foot out of her dressing room, O’Donnell referred to her opponent as a “conservative provocateur.” The first actual fisticuffs though came early in round one with O’Donnell jabbing at Coulter over the recent hostilities in Israel and Lebanon being the fault of the Bush administration:
Does Norah read NewsBusters? Could it be pure coincidence that Hardball's 'What'd You Say?' audio highlights of the week just happened to select the two items we had highlighted here and here? Who knows?
For the record, the two featured soundbites were Joe Biden's
Indian-7/11 slur, and Cindy Sheehan's pronouncement that she would
rather live under Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez than George Bush.
Panelist Tucker Carlson had the best line: "[Sheehan's] a
pathetic figure. It would be a hard moral call whether or not to have
her on. She's almost like a sideshow figure now." Too true.
As James Taranto suggested Monday in his WSJ 'Best of the Web' column, at some point you can question a person's patriotism. Cindy Sheehan surely crossed that Rubicon long ago. But just in case there was any doubt, Sheehan made things perfectly clear this evening, flatly stating that she'd rather live under Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez than George Bush.
Sheehan made her comments during a Hardball appearance, during which guest host Norah O'Donnell, sitting in for Chris Matthews, gave her a surprisingly rough ride. At one point, O'Donnell asked: "Why go stand by side by Hugo Chavez in Venezuela? Why do that? Would you rather live under him than George Bush?
Ouch! Norah O'Donnell knows how to get a guy where it hurts. And Kim Jong Il might be feeling 'ronrier' than ever.
On this evening's Hardball, Norah, guest-hosting for Chris Matthews, discussed the failed North Korean missile tests with three separate panels. In each case, she used the same Freudian-fraught metaphor for failure:
To her first panel, composed of congressmen Dan Burton [R-IN] and Bill Pascrell [D-NJ], Norah noted:
"We saw the Taepodong missile essentially exploded and went limp into the sea of Japan after 45 seconds."
Next, with guests Michael Scheuer and Tyler Drumheller - both former CIA officials - she mentioned:
Just when you're ready to write Chris Matthews off as a hopeless liberal, he pulls something like he did tonight, criticizing the New York Times for its latest leak of an anti-terror program.
Matthews' guests were the Rev. Al Sharpton and conservative radio talk show host Melanie Morgan. On the subject of the Times leak, Sharpton predictably proclaimed that the Gray Lady was "absolutely right," while Morgan sided with President Bush. That's when Matthews weighed in with his surprising pronouncement:
"Melanie, on this issue, believe it or not, I'm with you. I think the Times should not have run that story, I don't think we needed to know that. It wasn't really about us; it was of more interest to the enemy."
"President Bush has broken the law!" That's how viewers of MSNBC's Hardball were greeted last night when Chris Matthews first came on the air. You get the sense that Matthews has been dying to utter those words for a long time now and the Supreme Court's Guantanamo decision gave him the excuse to do so. In the MRC's annals of jarring and incredibly biased openings this ranks right up there with Katie Couric's: "Good morning, the Gipper was an airhead!" The following is Matthews full introduction to last night's Hardball:
Chris Matthews: "President Bush has broken the law. That's the verdict of the Supreme Court. Bush says he can try prisoners on Guantanamo without courts martial or Geneva Convention rules. The court says he's wrong, that he's overreached his lawful powers as president. Let's play Hardball. Good evening. I'm Chris Matthews and welcome to Hardball. President Bush's wartime powers took a major hit today when the Supreme Court ruled he overstepped his authority in creating military tribunals for prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. The Court concluded by a 5-3 vote that the tribunals were illegal and violated the Geneva Conventions and U.S. military law."
As fellow NewsBuster Mithridate Ombud noted today, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll has flatly accused the Bush administration of anti-Semitism in its criticism of The New York Times for its latest leak of an anti-terror program. Claimed Carroll:
"The Times is a good target... Also, the name of the New York Times contains the word 'New York.' Many members of the president's base consider 'New York' to be a nifty code word for 'Jewish.' It is very nice for the president to be able to campaign against the Jews without (a) actually saying the word "Jew" and (b) without irritating the Israelis."
Is this an emerging MSM theme? Perhaps, judging by Chris Matthews' line of questioning on this evening's Hardball.
On last night's Hardball actress Mia Farrow slipped in the old "Bush went to war for oil," canard during a discussion about Darfur. MSNBC's Chris Matthews asked Farrow what she wanted the American people and government to do about the crisis in Darfur to which Farrow demanded: "Support the relief agencies, and urge our leadership. There is, of course, a lack of political will. There is no oil in Darfur, only human beings."
The following is the fuller exchange between Farrow and Matthews:
Chris Matthews: "Well, tell us what the American people watching right now and what they're government can do. Individuals can't do much. What do they want or you want the government of the United States to do?"
MRC's Geoff Dickens reports that MSNBC's "Hardball" on Tuesday also pushed the line that Bush was pandering to conservatives with media criticism. After claiming, like a liberal talking-point machine, that unnamed "national security experts" disagree with the president that the New York Times has harmed national security, since the Bush people announced vaguely in public that they would monitor terrorist finances, reporter David Shuster picked up on the Ed Henry echo:
Shuster: "Political analysts believe the Bush administration’s latest war with the media is motivated in part by the coming midterm elections."
Political analyst Charlie Cook: "They’ve got to motivate their base and conservatives, Republicans tend to distrust the media, so any time you can play off and use the media as a foil, it’s probably a good thing."
Over the last couple days, I've received four emails from one liberal reader of these columns, repeatedly asking me why conservatives are so 'angry and mean-spirited'. I tried explaining that while anger is common to the human condition, in no way do conservatives have a monopoly on the emotion. To the contrary, I cited a recent study revealing that, even when controlling for relevant variables, Republicans tend to be happier than Democrats.
Since I was unable to prove the proposition to the reader's satisfaction, I very much hope he was watching this evening's Hardball. For the show provided a perfect case in point of Republican good humor and raw Dem anger.
The Seer of MSNBC hath spoken: no matter how good the news might be now for President Bush, he will be in worse shape come the November elections.
That was Chris Matthews' reading of the entrails on this morning's Today show. Guest-hosting David Gregory interviewed him, and, sounding the same theme we saw over at this morning's Early Show, cast the controversy over the latest leak of an anti-terror program not as a threat to national security, but as "this attack on the New York Times."
Gregory teed up this softball for Matthews: "The question is, whether should we be taking their [the administration's] word for it, that these are legal programs? Do you think the administration, any administration, has earned the right . . . to protect that kind of secret?"
In the closing minutes of MSNBC's "Hardball" on Thursday night, guest host Norah O'Donnell was wrapping up with anti-war liberal Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson and anti-war paleoconservative Pat Buchanan. (That should not qualify in any studio as a balanced left-right panel on the war.) MRC's Geoff Dickens noted that O'Donnell couldn't maintain much objectivity as they discussed conservative Sen. Rick Santorum and the new declassified document showing American forces have found 500 WMDs, sarin and mustard gas, in Iraq. Both columnists pounded Santorum -- and O'Donnell laughed at the liberal's gibes, repeatedly.
O'Donnell began the segment by playing a clip of Santorum speaking out:
"Now, that was the Senator Santorum on the Senate floor yesterday. Let me ask both of you, do you think, that if had we found weapons of mass destruction, that the White House would allow Senator Rick Santorum to announce that we’d found them?"
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?"