This is too good, folks: “Hardball” anchor Chris Matthews is getting lambasted for doing an abysmal job moderating a recent debate between gubernatorial candidates in Florida (hat tip to TVNewser). The St. Petersburg Times published an editorial on Tuesday that was highly critical of the MSNBC host (emphasis mine throughout):
The last debate between Florida's candidates for governor Monday night was supposed to give voters one final opportunity to size up Charlie Crist and Jim Davis on the key issues facing this state. Instead it was hijacked by a cable television windbag and a third-party candidate who had no business being on the same stage.
The editorial comically continued:
Moderator Chris Matthews of MSNBC's Hardball apparently forgot it was a debate between candidates for governor, not Congress. He wasted most of the hour by asking questions about the war in Iraq, a New Jersey Supreme Court decision on gay marriage and the Mark Foley sex scandal. He rehashed the 2000 election. He burned up time demanding that Crist label himself as a fiscal conservative or a social values conservative (fiscal) and trying to get Davis to declare himself a liberal (he's not). Matthews got bogged down in a lengthy discussion over a paper trail for electronic voting machines, and he apparently didn't realize there is a property insurance crisis in this state until he was being driven in from the airport. This is what happens when a Washington television personality brings a national agenda to Florida's race for governor.
The Times concluded:
Unfortunately, the issues that matter most got the least attention. Instead, Matthews wasted time asking about the "big crime problem down here" at a time when the crime rate is at its lowest level in three decades. […]
But the real losers were the voters, who lost their best chance to reach their own conclusions based on substance instead of TV ads. For that, we can thank Chris Matthews.
Nice job, Chris. Keep up the good work.