For daring to oppose Chuck Hagel's nomination to be Secretary of Defense, Chris Matthews on Thursday snarled that Ted Cruz is the new Joe McCarthy. Comparing the Republican senator from Texas to liberalism's highest villain, Matthews ranted, "You know, I don't often say it, and I rarely say it, but there was echoes of Joe McCarthy there. Really strong echoes." [MP3 audio here .]
The Hardball anchor came to this conclusion after playing a clip of Cruz pointing out that the "government of Iran [is] formally and publicly praising" Hagel's nomination. Matthews's guest, Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, unsurprisingly agreed: "It was absolutely McCarthy-like!" Matthews's claim that he "rarely" compares people to McCarthy is just wrong. He's done it a number of times.
On July 28, 2010 , Matthews whined that Republicans like Michele Bachmann use "Joe McCarthy tactics."
On April 2, 2010 , the journalist lashed out at Rush Limbaugh for using the word regime. Matthews fumed, "I don't even think Joe McCarthy ever called this government a 'regime.'"
On Thursday, Matthews trashed Cruz: "Well, the jackals are in the street tonight." Would Matthews so casually refer to a Democratic Hispanic senator as a "jackal?"
During the month of January, in the span of two weeks, Matthews twice compared conservatives to "segregationists ." Clearly, the anchor is getting lazy with his slurs.
A transcript of the February 14 exchange is below:
[Talking about Ted Cruz attacking Chuck Hagel's confirmation.]
CLAIRE MCCASKILL: You don't cross that line and impugn someone's patriotism with no evidence. It was absolute McCarthy-like!
CHRIS MATTHEWS: We have the tape. Let's show Ted Cruz of Texas saying that very thing in your committee on Armed Services.
TED CRUZ: We saw with his nomination something truly extraordinary, which is the government of Iran formally and publicly praising the nomination of a Defense Secretary. I would suggest to you that, to my knowledge, that is unprecedented to see a foreign nation like Iran publicly celebrating a nomination.
MATTHEWS: You know, I don't often say it, and I rarely say it, but there was echoes of Joe McCarthy there. Really strong echoes. Your thoughts. I mean, how's he supposed to control what the PR agency out there in Tehran puts out there someday. How does that incriminate him?
MATTHEWS: Well, the jackals are in the street tonight. Thank you so much, Claire McCaskill.
-- Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here  to follow him on Twitter.