Worked into a tizzy over conservative radio talk show hosts and a Republican congresswoman complaining about the reported cost of President Obama's state visit to India, MSNBC's Chris Matthews today suggested racial animus -- against President Obama and the country of India -- played a role in the criticism. Yet at the same time Matthews put down Indian journalists by suggesting their reporting is inherently unreliable.
The Hardball host blasted Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Michele Bachmann for citing an Indian news agency's reporting on the cost of his state visit to India. A White House official says those reported cost figures are "wildly inflated."
"First of all, I consider this whole thing disgustingly ad hominem. It's an attack on our president, and sometimes I do think there's an ethnic aspect," Matthews groused, bringing the specter of racism into his complaint.
"I've never heard of a president being attacked on the cost of his trips," the political veteran incredulously insisted. "Like he's not worthy to travel, because of what?" Matthews asked, adding that India is "one of the most important countries in the world" for the U.S. to engage diplomatically and economically.
"You do kind of get the feeling that it's all aimed at 'this particular president doesn't deserve the dignity that others did'," Salon's Joan Walsh insisted a few moments later, imagining the rationale of conservative critics.
"Yeah, I also think they're putting down India too. Like, they don't like this Third World, it's not a white country," Matthews added. "Absolutely, Chris," Ari Rabin Havt of Media Matters agreed.
Of course in the same segment, Matthews was content to put down Indian journalism:
CHRIS MATTHEWS after a clip of Limbaugh: Well, that's not journalism. I don't know what you'd call it. But that's just mouthing a line that was given to them by an Indian newspaper that had absolutely no source of proper information.
MATTHEWS: Rush Limbaugh, I mean, is this rip and read from the Indian press? Is this the new standard now? Anything that you get from some stringer operation. It wasn't even an American newspaper stringer over there. It was some newspaper. They just like the fact that it was dirt.
MATTHEWS: I mean, are we just going to run anything that comes off the press over there? Is this news now? You don't have to check facts anymore, you just run anything you want as long as it's disparaging of our president. And he is our president.