It's a metaphysical certitude that whenever anything happens in the Middle East, the media will quickly blame former President George W. Bush and the war in Iraq.
Not missing the opportunity to do so, Chris Matthews began the 5PM installment of "Hardball" Friday connecting the riots in Egypt to a man that has been out of office for two years (video follows with transcript and commentary):
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Trouble on the Nile.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
Leading off tonight: Unrest in Egypt. Proving the Iraq war wasn`t needed, these protests in Egypt, as well as in Yemen and Tunisia, are all aimed at dictators supported by the U.S. The demonstrations have not yet turned anti-American, but they could. These are the events the Bush administration hoped to encourage by lying about weapons of mass destruction and invading Iraq. A live report from Richard Engel at the scene coming up. And we`ll stay on this story throughout the hour as events warrant.
Riots and a potential revolution in Egypt prove the Iraq war wasn't needed?
How does one come to that conclusion? Who on Matthews' staff decided that the perfect way to lead off Friday's program was by linking the unrest in Egypt to Bush and Iraq?
Didn't these folks learn anything from their rush to judgment over this month's shootings in Tucson?
This seems especially important as Matthews' guest through much of the program - NBC's Richard Engel reporting from Cairo - didn't say anything about these riots being in any way related to Iraq, anti-Americanism, or Bush.
From what Engel could tell, this is all about the high poverty and unemployment rates in Egypt along with continued disgust with the corruption of the government.
Matthews himself said, "The demonstrations have not yet turned anti-American."
So why suggest they are or will? Are viewers to believe that if Saddam Hussein was still in power in Iraq, folks in Egypt would be happy with the corruption in their country as well as the high unemployment and poverty?
Beyond this, Egypt is and has been a strong ally of the United States and plays a pivotal role in keeping peace in the region as a result of its treaty with Israel. Why would Bush or any President want to see a revolution in this country that could tremendously destabilize this entire part of the world sending oil prices to all-time highs and undermining the economy?
As it turned out, Matthews never got to answer such a question or elaborate on his absurd opening as breaking events out of Egypt, including an address by President Hosni Mubarak, dominated the entire hour.
But one has to wonder what if anything the folks at MSNBC learned from their rush to judgment when they incorrectly blamed the Tucson shootings on conservatives.
Are these people capable of toning down their own rhetoric and avoiding jumping the accusation shark every time news breaks, or is advancing their agenda the only thing that matters and all this civility talk was just a smokescreen to silence the Right?
Maybe more importantly, has Matthews foreshadowed what we should expect from so-called journalists in the coming days and that despite all evidence to the contrary, whatever happens in Egypt is going to be blamed on Bush?