Good thing Chris Matthews was down in DC and Mika Brzezinski in NYC this morning. Had they been in the same studio, it might have taken Springer-show security to pry them apart. Such was the level of bad vibes that cropped up between the MSNBC pair during Matthews' appearance on Morning Joe today.
The first incident to incite Matthews' ire was Mika's suggestion, after an impassioned Matthews plea to forget the Clintons and focus on Obama, that the Hardball host had done what it certainly sounded as if he had: endorsed the junior senator from Illinois. That drew a denial and an if-looks-could-kill glare from Matthews seen here in the screencap.
Later, Matthews got very miffed that Mika was about to end the interview of Hillary spokesman Howard Wolfson without letting Chris pose any questions.
View video here.
That wasn't all . . .
Here's that first testy exchange:
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Joining us on the phone now, Clinton campaign communications director Howard Wolfson, who has been listening to our recent interview in the last few minutes with Governor Bill Richardson, and Chris Matthews, I don't know, Chris, you weren't endorsing Barack Obama there, were you?
CHRIS MATTHEWS [voice dripping with controlled anger]: Why do you say that?
BRZEZINSKI: I don't know; I just, just asking, just asking.
MATTHEWS: No I wasn't.
BRZEZINSKI: OK, just making sure.
And then, a bit later, when Mika was on the verge of bidding Wolfson goodbye without letting Matthews get in a word edgewise.
BRZEZINSKI: I thank you very much for joining us, and we appreciate your taking all of our questions --
MATTHEWS: How did I get cut out of that?
BRZEZINSKI [realizing that Matthews was miffed and trying to cover herself]: And Chris, stay with us --
MATTHEWS: How did I get cut out of that?
BRZEZINSKI: I don't know. Here's the deal --
MATTHEWS: Am I allowed to talk to Howard or what?
BRZEZINSKI [giving in]: What I want to do; go ahead, let's blow through the break.
MATTHEWS: What happened there?
BRZEZINSKI: Go for it Chris.
MATTHEWS: No, I was cut out there; I don't understand.
BRZEZINSKI: I'm not cutting you out. I'm just --
MATTHEWS: I want to talk to Howard!
Mika told Matthews "I'm not cutting you out," but that's just what she had intended to do, and Chris was clearly not pleased. Wolfson ultimately wound up staying and Matthews got his chance to question him.
It was a morning for Mika, sitting in the anchor's chair in the absence of regular host Joe Scarborough, to big-foot colleague and guest alike. Before the Mika-Matthews eruptions, Brzezinski repeatedly interrupted guest-panelist Pat Buchanan's questioning of Bill Richardson with a series of exclamations, even stepping on some of Richardson's comments with her observations. I half-expected Buchanan to round on Mika, but Pat exercised chivalrous restraint.
Hot Air: "Chris Matthews getting more hysterical about Obama by the day."
Bonus Coverage: Matthews' Ode to Obama
Here's the transcript of Matthews' homage to Barack that made Mika think, rightly you'd have to say, that Chris had endorsed him.
MATTHEWS: I think we make a big mistake trying to see things through the eyes of the Clintons in a kind of Clinton-centric world. I mean, there's a larger globe out there of people, 300 million Americans and billions of people around the world. I think we should look upon these decisions by people like Bill Richardson as important to people like us, instead of how it affects the sensibilities of the Clintons. I think that's a big mistake we've been making for about 20 years. Let me read you something from the Washington Times today. It's about a woman over in Alexandria watching television when you, governor, made your announcement for Senator Obama:
I was at the McDonald's on Henry Street at 1:00 P.M. with three little children. It was exactly the time that New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson was making his announcement endorsing Barack Obama for president. It was dead quiet. Two African-American men were standing around the televisions mounted on the walls, and two Hispanic families seated around me also watched intently. As soon as Richardson endorsed Obama, an African-American woman next to me called her husband and told him what had happened. Then one of the two men watching the TV shouted out loud in a tone of wonder and amazement. "It's going to happen. Obama is going to be the next president." It was the only moving moment that I've ever experienced with politics.
That is what we should be putting our focus, not on the feelings of the Clintons about what people owed them and their sense of entitlement. The American experience that's going on right now in McDonald's and in living rooms around the country, the feeling people have when they see you standing next to Barack Obama with your different backgrounds, I tell you, it's a stunning picture. It's not important what the politics of the Clinton family is now. It's what's important to the country. And I really think we've got to stop talking about this as if this were a sitcom. We had eight years of the sitcom. What are the Clintons up to? How do they relate to each other? What do they feel today? Mika, it's a sitcom, and it's got to end. We've got to focus on America. We're stuck in Iraq. 4,000 people are dead now because of decisions made by politicians like the Clintons. We've got to focus on what matters and stop this sitcom approach to politics. It doesn't matter what happened on the phone between Hillary Clinton and Bill Richardson. What matters is what Bill Richardson has to say about the future of the country. Bill, governor, why is it important to have Barack Obama our next president? That's a question.