'Non-Partisan' Matthews Condemns 'Mehlman Cesspool' Over RNC Harold Ford Ad

Referring to an RNC ad as the "Mehlman cesspool," Chris Matthews was being non-partisan. Really - he told us so!

On this afternoon's Hardball, Matthews interviewed Rep. Harold Ford, Jr., Dem candidate for senator from Tennessee. The first topic up was an ad the RNC is currently running using actors to tweak Ford on his positions on a variety of issues, from taxes to gun control to North Korea. The ad also alludes to the fact that Ford attended a Playboy party at the Super Bowl in Jacksonville in 2005.

At the ad's end, an alluring woman saying she met Harold at a Playboy party whispers "Harold, call me!"

Democrats have been quick to cry that the use of a white woman is an insidious appeal to racism. Matthews wasted no time sounding the Dems' battle cry:

"Congressman, let's get out of the Ken Mehlman cesspool here for a minute. I really do, I think this is a nonpartisan assessment. The ad, I have seen it 10 times today, it has ethnic overtones, sexual overtones. I don't think Ken Mehlman was healthy accepting this kind of environment."


Video of Matthews' meltdown available here, with hat tip to The Political Pit Bull.

Four asides:

  • Did the ad have "sexual overtones"? Darn right! But if a candidate is going to film a TV commercial of himself inside his boyhood church, as Ford has, he opens himself up to charges of hypocrisy. Were there "ethnic" overtones? Viewing the ad, I think the ethnic angle would have struck me more had the RNC had chosen a black actress.
  • Before being turned over to Matthews, Ford was interviewed by Norah O'Donnell. She posed several questions about the ad, and at first Ford opted for the high road, even saying "bless his heart" about his Republican opponent Bob Corker and claiming "I have too much joy in my heart to be mad.". But Ford eventually got into high gear - revved up, you might say - and made repeated references to the ad as "disgusting," "despicable" and "offensive."
  • Asked by George Stephanopoulos this past Sunday whether he had attended the Playboy party, Ford gave an answer of breathtakingly Clintonian evasiveness, saying he had never attended a party "at the Playboy mansion." Maybe not. But the question is whether he attended a Playboy party at the Super Bowl in Jacksonville in 2005. Apparently he did. I guess it's a question of what the meaning of "Playboy party" is.
  • Have you ever seen Norah O'Donnell make eyes like that at a Republican?

You can view the ad here and come to your own - non-partisan, of course - conclusions.

Finkelstein lives in the liberal haven of Ithaca, NY. Webcasts and podcasts of Mark's award-winning TV show 'Right Angle' are available here. Contact Mark at mark@gunhill.net

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.