Matthews' Selective 'Sopranos' Outrage: OK Against Republicans, Bad Against Dems

When it comes to using Mafia references for political purposes, Chris Matthews has a one-way sense of outrage. OK for slurring Republicans. Bad, bad, bad when used against Dems.

Matthews is the king of MSM conniption fits over Republican ads. He pounded for days on the RNC ad about Harold Ford, Jr., accusing RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman of "cesspool" tactics and claiming the ad played to white fears of "losing white women to black guys."

Matthews had a similar over-the-top reaction to an ad [see it here] running in NJ that uses a mobbed-up character to mock ethically-challenged Bob Menendez. Here's how Stephen Spruiell at National Review's Media Blog noted Matthews reaction:

"Well maybe because I've spent so much of my life in New Jersey... but you know, I have to tell you Charlie, it's an ethnic ad. Whatever else it is, it's an ethnic ad. It's about Italians in New Jersey, it's about the mob. Tying Menendez into Torricelli. They're closing the loop, they're making their point, and that has been politics in that state for years, between the WASPy people like Christie Todd Whitman and the Keans, father and son, running against the ethnic people, they tied it all together: If you're ethnic, you're a crook, right?"

Matthews continued: "What the hell does Bob Menendez have to do with The Sopranos? What's he got to do with Bob Torricelli, besides, they're not WASPs, they're ethnics?"

But when last year a guest on his own show described President Bush to Matthews' face as a "Godfather" who was like "Tony Soprano" and compared the Bush family to the Corleones, Matthews, far from reacting in outrage, drew his guest out to make sure his audience got what he was saying.

Here's how NewsBuster Noel Sheppard noted it at the time:

Matthews: "Howard, is it -- I think it is simple. Was he in the loop, the president?"

Howard Fineman: "I think he's in the loop the way Tony Soprano is in the loop at the Bada-Bing."

Chris: "For those of us without HBO, what does that mean?"

Fineman: "That means he's the Godfather. The Godfather doesn't know all the details. I've compared the Bush family before to the Corleones."

Using Mafia slurs is apparently OK with the MSM, so long as they're directed at the Bush administration. In his pay-to-read column in this very morning's New York Times, Frank Rich has this to say in discussing possible changes in Iraq policy:

"The adults in charge of disengagement will include the Bush family consigliere, James Baker."

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.