Chris Matthews Attacked Cambridge 911 Caller

July 29th, 2009 11:50 PM


Apparently, MSNBC's Chris Matthews could not wait for the audio (courtesy of Real Clear Politics) release of the 911 call made by Harvard employee Lucia Whalen. If he did, he would have discovered she never inserted the race of the individuals she was describing during her conversation with the 911 dispatcher,  while she reported what she thought was a burglary in progress.  Her call led to the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates.  However, Mr. Matthews and his guest Michael Eric Dyson decided to attack Ms. Whalen instead on a July 21st Hardball segment. Below is a transcript:

MATTHEWS: Clarence Page is a friend of ours, always here, pal of mine going way back

PAGE: Way back.

MATTHEWS: Chicago Tribune columnist. There still are newspapers! And Michael Eric Dyson is a professor at one of the great universities in the world, Georgetown, sir! Thank you.

DYSON: Thank you, my friend.

MATTHEWS: So, we don’t—we weren’t there.

PAGE: Right.

MATTHEWS: Let’s agree. None of us were there. But what do you think this is about, Clarence?

PAGE: None of this makes sense, first of all. We know Skip Gates. You know, 58 years old. He’s about 5 foot 7. He walks with a cane. He—like he put up a fight with the police?

MATTHEWS: He’s got a neighbor that doesn’t recognize him. She called in 911.

PAGE: Well, yes. Yes.

MATTHEWS: Got a cop in there saying there’s a burglary in progress.

PAGE: Right.

MATTHEWS: He shows up. Officer Crowley—I love the fact that everybody’s Irish. He shows up—

PAGE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: —and is told that the guy inside the house is a burglar. By the neighbor. So, it isn’t all his fault, by any means.

PAGE: This man is a superstar, not just in Cambridge.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I know.

PAGE: It must have been the only person in the neighborhood who didn’t know who it was. Unbelievable.

MATTHEWS: Clarence, you guys are—you’re academic [to Dyson], and you’re lettered [to Page]. You know what the guy is. The neighbor didn’t know who he was. The cop didn’t know who he was. What do you think happened? And what does it say about America? Does it say anything at all? Michael!

DYSON: Absolutely. First of all, your neighbor doesn’t know you. You don’t have to be famous. It’s just your neighbor.

MATTHEWS: Well, she’s the one that called 911!

DYSON: That’s my point. You don’t know the guy that lives next door to you?

MATTHEWS: She was profiling him!


DYSON: Yes. Yes. She saw his profile and called in: “Yes, this guy with the cane looks like he’s going to beat me down.” But the point is—

MATTHEWS: See, what I don’t understand is, she knew her neighbor was African-American. He had a certain look. She sees a guy with a certain look. She wasn’t profiling, or what—what was going on here?

Once the media heard the audio of Ms. Whalen's 911 call on July 27th, Mr. Matthews played the audio on his show that evening.  However, he made no reference to the fact that Ms. Whalen never identified the race of the men she mistakenly thought were committing a crime, and again he yucked it up with his guests.  Moreover, Mr. Matthews did not point out that Ms.Whalen was not Professor Gates's neighbor but simply a passerby who witnessed what she thought was a crime in progress.

It is not a funny matter when a national TV figure accuses a private citizen of something he or she did not do. Mr. Matthews, you owe Ms. Whalen an apology...big time.  

*Updated-Information that Ms.Whalen is not Professor Gates's neighbor

Cross Posted at the Washington Times Water Cooler Blog

Kerry Picket is an Online Producer at the Washington Times Editorial Page