MSNBC's Chris Matthews Insists He Tries to Examine American Politics 'Objectively'
The former Tip O'Neill staffer-turned-political analyst who'd never heard of congressional insider trading until President Obama mentioned it in last week's State of the Union, insists he is unaware of the Bush Derangement Syndrome of many on the Left during the former president's tenure in the Oval Office. What's more, that's not his bias talking, it's just objective reality.
"There's a real level of national hatred of the president that I hadn't seen before. Certainly not under Clinton or under Dubya," MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews argued on WMAL radio's Morning Majority program this morning. "The hatred, the Hitler mustaches, all that stuff, I haven't seen that before," Matthews added, prompting co-hosts Mary Katharine Ham and Bryan Nehman to incredulously retort that, no, in fact, the Left used Hitler comparisons against the former president.
"You guys have a point of view and I'm trying to look at this objectively," Matthews retorted after the conservative hosts challenged his ludicrous assertion.
That would be the straight-down-the-middle "objective" journalist who has, on national TV:
- Said shortly after Obama's election that it was his "job" to ensure President Obama has a "successful presidency"
- Fantasized about Dick Cheney waterboarding Karl Rove
- Grossly misrepresented and never issued an outright correction about, the size of the federal government under Obama
- Insisted he'd vote for Jon Huntsman were he a New Hampshire primary voter
- Insisted Rick Santorum favors constructing a "theocracy" that would "trump" the Constitution
- Conspiratorially posited that John Edwards's criminal indictment was right-wing "revenge"
- Bashed the Republican Party at-large as "anti-science" and "troglodyte"
- Fantasized about Rush Limbaugh meeting a Bond villain-like demise
The examples of Matthews's hysterical and cartoonish liberal biases are legion and documented here.
Also of note from this morning's interview was how co-host Mary Katharine Ham called Matthews on his "histrionics" about the Tea Party movement:
MATTHEWS: To be honest with you, I don't remember ever me, Chris Matthews, ever saying a word about the town halls on the Right being violent.
HAM: Uh, you did. You referred to a man who facetiously referred to himself as a right-wing terrorist, you said that that kind-
MATTHEWS: Well, of course, I quoted him.
HAM: -of language would push us, would push us to violence of the worst kind you didn't even want to imagine it.
MATTHEWS: Okay. Well, I wish they amended it at the time.
HAM: Right, so I'm just saying, it seems like this movement is at least equally scary.
MATTHEWS: Mary Katharine, I call them as I see them...
You can listen to the full, nearly 10-minute-long interview here or by clicking play below. The discussion contrasting the Tea Party movement with the Occupy movement starts around the 6:10 mark.
The full transcript of the segment, transcribed by MRC intern Jeffrey Meyer, is pasted below:
The Morning Majority
January 31, 2012
Brian Nehman: I, I wanna, I do wanna get into Florida, get your take on what's going on there, but I know you got a new book out, Jack Kennedy, Illusive Hero. I, I guess my first question to you, cuz I know you're fascinated with Kennedy, like so many Americans are. Where, where would he fit into the Democratic Party today? How would he...
Chris Matthews: He would be sorta, where I guess, center, center-left. Very close to the center. I think very conservative on some things. Very tough cold warrior. Tough on tax cutting. Not exactly Ted Kennedy. He was much more conservative, and much more I think, you know, I guess, classically American, in sorta a common sense way. I mean I think he was pretty much a classic. I mean I'm making the case for him because I really believe in, I think he was the kind of a guy that appealed to most, what you call Reagan Democrats.
Nehman: Right, right.
Chris Matthews: As well as regular Democrats.
Nehman: And, where is that person today in the Democratic party? As well, a lot of conservatives listen to this show.
Chris Matthews: Well me.
Nehman: (Laughter) You?
Chris Matthews: As a commentator. I mean I think I'm looking for that person in the real parts of the world. I'm somewhere there. I think there's a lot of people in that, just slightly left, mainly center, who are looking for a deal between the two parties. I think he was a deal maker. And what's missing today are people that can conv..in the back room, and see common ground and find it and be honest and admit there's common ground. Most of these guys pretend they can't agree on anything when they easily could. They just wanna win the next election. And they think the way to do that is to say no to the other guy.
Brian Wilson: Chris, on that point, on that point, I remember when you...
Chris Matthews: I worked for Tip O'Neill for 6 years and the best thing those guys did was cut deals
Wilson: Exactly what I was going to ask you about. You worked with Tip O'Neill, who was a Democratic Speaker of the House. There was no doubt, that, that Tip O'Neill was a Democrat day in and day out. But from time to time, he would actually reach across and actually cut a deal with Ronald Reagan to accomplish something. Where has that, that spirit of comedy gone, where you fight your good battle, but ultimately everybody put aside the rancor and actually come up with a deal.
Chris Matthews: You know when you're a kid, you're about 5 years old and you learn that when you play cowboys and Indians, when you shoot the other guy and the other guy says oh yeah you got me. Unless the other guy says you got me, the game doesn't work. When he knows he got you. And so, Tip knew he lost the 80 election badly when Reagan won big when he beat Carter. So he didn't get in his way. He didn't obstruct him. Two years later when Tip won the election, won most of the seats back in the House, Reagan buckled to Tip and said okay you won that one and we will fix Social Security your way. So, the way you win the next election is to recognize who won the last one and to not get in the way of it. Now the Republican strategy, I'm not being partisan on this because this is a fact. The Republicans like Mitch McConnell said lets screw President Obama as much as we can, make sure he gets nothing done so he can't say there was any bipartisanship. And then they can go run against him. I think the public might detect, they might not but that calculation is not the way normal politics work. Normally you say, hey you won the election, let's fix it your way and let's move on. But in this case we've just been stuck I think.
Mary Katharine Ham: Well, when you're talking about the obstruction issue, one of the antes, the anti got upped when Barack Obama decided that recess appointments would happen whenever he declared the Senate was out. Does that not make obstructionism more of a problem because people are less likely to cooperate with you when you're declaring their house in or out of session. Are they not?
Matthews: I know, it's gotten bitter, there's no doubt about it. It's another one of those games they play against each other when they feel they can't get anything done.
Ham: But does he bear...
Matthews: President Obama hasn't been able to get any cabinet appointments. Apparently a lot of Ambassadorships don't get approved, just normally aren't getting approved. I know a guy that just got nominated for something, and he has no assurance. I talked to one guy, an Ambassador who waited fifteen months to get approved. I mean there is a real slow-mo game going on here. A job action on the other side.
Ham: But does he bear some responsibility Barack Obama for...
Matthews: Yeah, well it depends..
Ham: for going there.
Matthews: It depends. Is he supposed to run the federal government. Is he supposed to have people to do the job. And if he can't get them approved what is he supposed to do? Just live without appointments? Live without people to do the job? What's the alternative?
Brian Wilson: Well it was a finger in the eye Chris. It was a finger in the eye when he appointed the two members to the NLRB. It wasn't just any appointment.
Matthews: Well sure.
Wilson: It wasn't just any appointment. It wasn't a judge. It was the NLRB.
Matthews: Well you make the point, we're in a bitter period, okay.
Nehman: Well, Republicans I can say is alright fine, you know the President won in 2008, but Republicans won huge amounts in the House in 2010, and that was.
Matthews: That's right. And the deal should have been. A deal should have been on the tax issue and the spending issue. Something like five or, five or seven or eight to one. And the Democrats I think were willing to accept a very bad deal from their direction. In terms of spending cuts combined with tax cuts, or tax increases if they could get a deal. But just remember, all the Republican candidates said they wouldn't even take a ten to one deal. John Boehner wanted to cut a deal but then he said oh I need 200 of the people in my party. I can't go with 150 and cut a deal with 70 of the Democrats. I can't cut a compromise even to my own party's advantage now, because my own party has become so truculent that no deal is possible. I think the Democrats knew they lost the last election. I don't know whether Pelosi did. But certainly Steny Hoyer knew he lost the last election.
Nehman: Who do you think poses more of a threat for Barack Obama, Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney?
Matthews: Boy that's a tough one. That's a tough one. Normally, you'd say the guy more moderate, more to the center. But, I think he might lose his reason for running rather quickly. I think Romney has a hard time justifying why he's in public life even sometimes. I can't figure out what his theme is. What he is, what he believes in. What he would fight for. What would he lose an election for is my favorite question. What are you willing to say is more important to you than winning the next election. And I can't find that with Romney. With Newt, maybe I can't find it either but he's certainly seems to have more passion.
Ham: Chris I watch your show a lot, and have watched it a lot over the years, especially I remember back in 2009 during the health care town halls. And you yourself, and many of your guests were very worried about the rhetoric and possible violence that might break out at the health care town halls. And that was a really big deal. It got a lot of national coverage. The possibility that we might turn to violence. Now when occupy started out, I didn't hear any of the same fears, even though the rhetoric was possibly more heightened among the signage of the occupy kids. And in many, in several cases there have been, dead people found at occupy camps. There have been assaults
Matthews: Did you ever, did you ever watch me, did you ever watch me do a show positive about the occupy? Did you ever see me tout them?
Ham: Well, I don't see quite the historionics that I saw..
Matthews: Well you haven't seen me advertise the...you haven't seen my show. You got me confused with somebody else. I have never thought that the occupy thing had a clear voice. Had a purpose that I could grasp. Except a generalized 99% versus 1% argument. I never thought they really knew how to talk. Now the people on the other side...
Ham: But, do you think they posed a similar danger to what you were afraid of during the health care town halls of 2009 which weren't, which were pretty peaceful.
Matthews: To be honest with you, I don't remember ever me, Chris Matthews, ever saying a word about the, uh, the town halls on the right being violent.
Ham: Uh you did. You referred to a man who factitiously referred to himself as a right-wing terrorist. You said that kind of language would push us to violence of the worst kind. You didn't even want to imagine it.
Matthews: Okay. Well obviously I meant it at the time.
Ham: Alright, so I'm just saying it seems like this movement is at least equally scary.
Matthews: Mary Katharine, I call them as I seem them. It's the best that anybody can do. Is call them as I see them. I saw those people spitting on Congressman. I saw them yelling at them. I saw a lot of the anger in the room. I remember what happened back in 63. I remember the violence in the atmosphere. It was terrible. The hatred of president personally. Almost, I mean actually, ad homen. They hated the guy. I saw that level of hatred. And I remember seeing it before. Of course I'm worried about it. Why do you think we have a Secret Service? Why do you think they...
Ham: Right, no I agree with you.
Matthews: Why do you think that, if you don't think that an honest fear of violence in that very hot period around 2010. It was real. I think you're wrong. I think there was a real fear on the part of security people that it might get out of hand. The hatred was real and palpable. I think it's settled down.
Ham: Well I feel like the assaults, yeah I know I agree with you. I just feel like one side, one side, it feels like...
Matthews: Who were the occupy people against personally? Where was the personal hatred there?
Ham: Well they were assaulting each other, and they were, in many cases people getting shot, people getting shot in the camps.
Matthews: Lets be honest, they're worried about the security of the President of the United States.
Ham: Alright, so that's the dividing line. But it felt like one side was supposed to, was allowed to be angry and the other side was not.
Matthews: Well the distinction was the concern. You know, I would, I would, I was at Arlington one time, at the Lee Mansion, I heard this guy talking about the cause. And I'm beginning to think, is this, a real tea party kind of guy, and I go, what is this the cause, this isn't the Civil War continued is it? Is this some the great cause? There's a real level of national hatred of the president that I hadn't seen before certainly not under Clinton or under W.
Ham: Under W you didn't see that? Are you...oh lordy.
Nehman: Alright Chris, we will leave it there.
Wilson: It was there.
Nehman: It was there, it's been around.
Matthews: The hatred, the Hitler mustaches, all that stuff, I just haven't seen that before.
Ham: You didn't see that...
Nehman: You didn't see that during the Bush years? Alright.
Wilson: Wow, I remember it.
Nehman: We'll leave it there. Thank you Chris.
Matthews: You guys have a point of view and I have, I'm trying to look at this objectively.
Ham: I Know.
Nehman: Alright, well we're trying to look at it objectively as well. Thank you.
- Ken Shepherd is Managing Editor for MRC's NewsBusters.org website.