MSNBC host Chris Matthews on Wednesday night mocked his Fox News competition, wondering when someone would write a book entitled Killing O'Reilly. [MP3 audio here.] The Hardball anchor appeared on the Colbert Report to promote his own tome, Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked. Stephen Colbert put Matthews on the spot, wondering if Ronald Reagan was a better president than Barack Obama.
Matthews surprisingly answered, "In the end, yeah. In the end. Because he ended the Cold War. That's hard to beat. Hard to beat that, baby." Of course, Matthews does have a book to sell, one that he presumably wants more than just liberals to buy. Talking about the Cold War, the liberal anchor praised, "Reagan hated the idea of nuclear war. He hated mutual assured destruction...He understood the situation. He was a human being."
In recent years, Matthews has attempted to downplay Reagan as a man of the right. On September 7, 2011, he insisted that the Republican president "wasn't a social conservative."
Referencing Bill O'Reilly and his books Killing Lincoln and Killing Jesus, Colbert joked, "You're not inspired by God to write your book? By the way, why didn't you call it Killing Tip and the Gipper?"
Matthews retorted, "By the way, when are we going to have the book we've really been waiting for? Killing O'Reilly? When's that coming?"
A partial transcript is below:
STEPHEN COLBERT: I believe on standing on your principles.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Which means don't compromise.
COLBERT: No. Reagan never did.
MATTHEWS: He did so! That's what the book is about.
COLBERT: He did not. He did not. I don't care what the book is about. I don't care what kind of Harry Potter fantasy you've written here. Ronald Reagan stood on his principles and punched Gorbachev and knocked down the Berlin Wall.
MATTHEWS: So, when they went to Geneva, they didn't have an arms agreement? They didn't get rid of –
COLBERT: The Soviets got rid of their arms.
COLBERT: Soviets got rid of some of their arms. Reagan said, "Take away your arms."
MATTHEWS: They got rid of all the arms in Europe as the first step and then began working on the intercontinental weapons. They did a really great thing. They ended the threat of a third world war. That's what they accomplished.
COLBERT: 'Cause they knew Reagan was willing to push the button on the Evil Empire?
MATTHEWS: They did?
COLBERT: They did.
MATTHEWS: Reagan hated the idea of nuclear war. He hated mutual assured destruction. He couldn't stand the idea that the only reason we didn't go to war is one side would totally annihilate the other side. He said the Russians are good people like us. It's not their fault they have a lousy leadership. He understood the situation. He was a human being.
COLBERT: Well, I guess we'll never know. You have your opinion and I have my opinion. I guess we'll never know.
MATTHEWS: But, see, I kept a book
COLBERT: What is that? Is that recipes?
MATTHEWS: No, no, no. Unlike Bill O'Reilly who gets it from up there, I kept notes.
COLBERT: Really? You're not inspired by God to write your book? By the way, why didn't you call it "Killing Tip and the Gipper?" That really moves some paper, man.
MATTHEWS: By the way, when are we going to have the book we've really been waiting for? Killing O'Reilly? When's that coming?
COLBERT: I'm not saying it wouldn't be a big seller. But it might be a little cry of help.
COLBERT: Do you think that Reagan was a better President than Obama is?
MATTHEWS: In the end, yeah. In the end. Because he ended the Cold War. That's hard to beat. Hard to beat that, baby.
COLBERT: That's true.