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Chris Matthews is a poor excuse for a journalist. He is a hack-- a smug, self-aggrandizing, egomaniacal bully, except when he’s kissing somebody’s butt (in which case he is an insufferable suck up.) I have seen his cruel, post-primary interview with Texas State Senator Kirk Watson half a dozen times. Every time I see it, I want to throw up. This was gotcha journalism at its worst and it did not prove a thing. So the guy couldn’t answer the question. So what? Does that mean there is no answer to the question? No, certainly not.  When given an opportunity to answer the same question the following night (prompted by producer pressure on Matthews, no doubt,) Obama’s well-prepared Senate colleague, Claire McCaskill reeled off an impressive list of his legislative accomplishments (which, Matthews should have been well aware of in any case.)

Here is why I think this was especially egregious journalistic behavior:

Pick on somebody your own size, why doncha?

To begin with, the guy was a local politician, brought on the show to talk about the upcoming Democratic primary in that state. I’m sure he was briefed by the NBC staffers about what he was going to be asked and I’d bet all my ranches and cattle that the question he was asked was not on the list. I’ll guarantee you Matthews would never have had the guts to treat a Governor, a Congressman or a U.S. Senator like that. He certainly would not have used the arrogant tone, the righteous indignation or that extremely boorish behavior with anybody he thought was important in the Beltway scheme of things. For years, I have been watching Tweety let his "important" Washington guests get away with the worst kind of political demagoguery without so much as a follow up question. Most guests on his show have a list of talking points a mile long and Matthews, more often than not, lets them recite them unchallenged. But Matthews made this poor guy a whipping boy trying to reinforce the silly meme that the Clintons and the Republicans (including Tweety’s hero, John McCain) have been spewing all over the place:  Words don’t matter. Obama’s an empty suit. He’s all talk and no action and blah blah blah. Ridiculous. Talk about empty rhetoric.

Delay of game

Senator Watson was interviewed by remote, so there was an audio delay of several seconds, which made Matthews’ cross-examination all the more inexcusable. This is very confusing for guests, especially when there is cross-talk (come to think of it, when is there not cross talk with Matthews?) In this case the delay had the unfortunate effect of making the Senator look even more like a deer caught in the headlights. The point is that the delay contributes to the sense of confusion and the moderator has an unfair advantage that the audience is unaware of.

What’s good for the goose...

Keith Olbermann got the last laugh moments later, astutely asking Matthews to name one accomplishment of the United States Senate in the last seven years. Matthews ... (you guessed it) had no answer. None. Nada. Zip. Bupkis.  Keith could have pressed it but he let him slide, but the clear implication was that he had pressed the thing too far. When Chris smugly answered "That’s why they call it Hardball. Tee-hee-hee."  Keith reminded him that this wasn’t Hardball. They were doing the election results.

What an Asshat.  

Originally posted to Bocotton on Fri Feb 22, 2008 at 05:29 PM PST.


Chris Matthews is...

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Comment Preferences

  •  It did not escape my notice (9+ / 0-)

    that, Olbermann and Matthews were separated during the post-debate last night.  Olbermann came on at 10pm and Matthews came on at 11pm.  Historically, they've spent at least part of the post-debates together.  

    Wonder whose idea that was?

  •  [Not a tip jar] Thanks for the info... (7+ / 0-)

    Thanks for the explanation! I saw that part of the coverage and was horribly confused - obviously Chris found someone to beat up on who wouldn't or couldn't hit back.

    I've always wondered why his normal viewers (I'm just assuming there are some...) don't see directly though it - but then I remember Rush has an audience too!

    Oh, and a recommend for showing how someone with class (Keith) deals with this sort of rubbish. The man has the patience (and righteous anger)of a saint.

    "What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account?" -- Lady McBeth

    by OneLawForAll on Fri Feb 22, 2008 at 05:36:42 PM PST

  •  Surrogates need to (5+ / 0-)

    know what they are talking about. It's a party wide problem that needs to be addressed.

    I won't deny that Tweety is, well, aweful. But this one is on the congress-critter and the Obama campaign.

  •  Can we stop bringing this up? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mike S, hairspray, Salo

    Watson made a fool out of himself.  There is no reason to rehash it.  The senator WAS a deer caught in the headlights (he had plenty of time to think of the answer between questions directed at the other person being interviewed and the long pauses with the three times Mathews asked the question).  Watson reminded me of a student who is unprepared for class and who hasn't learned enough to at least talk their way out of a corner.

    Keith didn't get "the last laugh" because it wasn't a case of stumping Mathews.  Mathews response was a joke back to Keith.  Do you really think Mathews couldn't think of any bill passed in the last six years.  It was a joke.

    Mathews was hard on Watson.  I believe that he had every right to be so, even if I wouldn't have done so myself.  Probably about 50% of journalists would have followed up the question as he did.  The problem for Mathews is that he can seem rude in how he does it.  That doesn't, in any case, make it wrong.

    •  Disagree (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      venatrix, extradish, mommaK

      He made his point the first time he asked the question. There was no reason to rub the guy's face in it. And, no, most professional broadcast journalists would not do the same-- you're trained to avoid dead air.

      The goal is not to bring your adversaries to their knees but to their senses. -- Mahatma Gandhi

      by kingubu on Fri Feb 22, 2008 at 05:46:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  But he was not brought on the show (6+ / 0-)

      to talk about Obama's legislative accomplishments. He was asked to come on the show to talk about the Texas primary and that is what he was prepared for. I just believe that it was a real cheap shot by Matthews, especially the way he kept pressing the point and sticking his jaw out. It was just plain meanness.

      I brought it up again because they're still playing it over and over again on MSNBC(I have seen it up several times today.) Matthews just can't stop patting himself on the back about it and I don't think he has anything to be proud of.  

  •  loose nukes (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mike S, kingubu, Bocotton

    death penty reform

    super easy.

    "It's a race to decide who the British goverment will follow blindly for the next 4 years" Kennedy/Kerry '08

    by Salo on Fri Feb 22, 2008 at 05:38:51 PM PST

  •  What got me about it... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    88kathy, venatrix, Bocotton, mommaK

    was that Tweety went out of his way to humiliate the guy.

    It was obvious from the first time he asked the question that the guy couldn't answer. Okay, whatever, bad surrogate training (or as Watson explained the next day, his mind just went blank). But Matthews kept asking and let him twist in the wind as the dead air piled up.

    Hugely unprofessional, but what do you expect, its Tweety.

    The goal is not to bring your adversaries to their knees but to their senses. -- Mahatma Gandhi

    by kingubu on Fri Feb 22, 2008 at 05:41:36 PM PST

  •  What was the point? (7+ / 0-)

    There was the unspoken implication that because this one guy couldn't answer the question, the fact was that there were no accomplishments. That was unfair to Obama.

    That said, I have to say, if I were just going out to knock on doors and campaign for Obama, I would have made some effort to learn about his legislative accomplishments. So I would have thought some guy going on national TV would have taken the trouble to be a bit better prepared.

    It does kind of make the point that presidential politics is all smoke and mirrors - that most people who play the game are looking at the appearance rather than the substance, even when there is substance there.

    I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies..

    by lesliet on Fri Feb 22, 2008 at 05:45:20 PM PST

    •  You nailed it... (0+ / 0-)

      What did we see the evening following this spectacle?  We saw a number of excellent diaries here outlining Obama's accomplishments.  Further, in last night's debate, we saw Obama himself cite a few of his accomplishments (he was far too modest in my view and should have gone on).  Tweety can be pretty vile, but I think his question was a service to the campaign in this instance.  It woke both us and Obama himself up.  But not only that, the supposedly accomplishment-less candidate was underestimated by the Clinton campaign and came back with a crushing response that both impressed everyone and caught them off guard.  I say, well played!.

      The first mistake of this diary lies in believing that Tweety is a journalist.  He's a commentator.  He irritates the hell out of me, but I often respect him precisely because he's so superficial.  Why is that a virtue?  He sees media realities and imagery, and these things have a real impact on how the less informed judge candidates.  Take him with a grain of salt, but also listen to his superficiality as he generally picks up on the things that kill candidates like a stealth bomber.

  •  The guy was a (0+ / 0-)

    State Senator.  You'd think a legislator who agrees to go on teevee to supprt another legislator would knwo something about, you know....
    No sympathy for him.  Matthews done good.

  •  yes, watson looked unprepared. that said... (5+ / 0-)

    chris matthews is a d-bag. olbermann makes his act look so tired. I have noticed matthews' tense body language when they are seated next to each other. he can feel the young buck taking over his spot. matthews' alpha thing just doesnt work with keith around and it makes him really uncomfortable.

    the video of keith cornering him in a non-malicious, amusing way just made a complete mockery of matthews' charade... it was great.

    Nominating Barack will help us elect more Democrats.

    by skyterrain on Fri Feb 22, 2008 at 05:48:34 PM PST

  •  Tweety (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kingubu, Bocotton

    is a punk and Jack Welch's butt boy. I think the asendence of KO is driving him insane and I am hoping he overplays his ever weakening hand and MSNBC cans him.

  •  Do people stilll watch this guy? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I gave it up a couple of months ago.  Since I don't like CNN either, I now watch a lot of Lae and Order reruns.  

  •  Tweety has a man-crush on Senator Obama (0+ / 0-)

    After Iowa he said that Obama's speech was the best political speech he has ever heard in his life.  He has also talked about feeling a tingle run up his leg listening to Obama speak.  On one of his shows, I think it was the night of New Hampshire, he said he wanted to get Senator Obama on his show, maybe have him in for tea and crumpets.

    He constantly refers to the candidates as "Barack" and "Senator Clinton".

    I suspect he was asking that question as a way to help the campaign combat the "All Hat and No Cattle" tag.  It would seem reasonable to expect that a politician who is supporting a candidate should at least have of clue as to something he has accomplished.

    60 Minutes this Sunday! 2/24
    Don Siegelman story finally airs

    by kbman on Fri Feb 22, 2008 at 06:06:45 PM PST

  •  Wait a damn minute--- (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    what was so bad about his interview with Obama's supporter?  It's about damn time matthews stopped kissing Obama's ass and start asking some tough questions.  He wasn't being "cruel", he was forcing the guy to answer a simple question that needs to be answered.

    Check out my blog at

    by josephpatrick on Fri Feb 22, 2008 at 06:08:15 PM PST

    •  No problem with his asking the question. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      venatrix, Tanya, mommaK

      It was the way he pressed it beyond the limits of any reasonable discourse that was offensive to me.

      •  Sorry, but a whole lot of Obama supporters (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        would be caught in exactly the same situation.  I loathe Chris Matthews for his rudeness, his misogyny, and other features.  But this moment caught something very important, and that is that many supporters of Obama know nothing about him other than his rock star charisma. This congressman is not an 18 year old student who is capitivated by the "novelty."  He should not be promoting someone he cannot define even in rudimentary terms.

        Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities-Voltaire

        by hairspray on Fri Feb 22, 2008 at 07:48:42 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Well, although I am far from a Matthews fan... (0+ / 0-)

        I do love when he holds politicians feet to the fire, when he truly does play hardball.  Usually he only goes hardball on women and Clinton supporters, but tuesday night, he played fair.  If someone dodges an answer, he or she deserves to be called out for it until they give you a straight answer.  And whoever supports Obama, whether a voter or politician, should be able to list his accomplishments.  

        Check out my blog at

        by josephpatrick on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 06:01:34 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  They had a big laugh about it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    on one of the shows during the day after Tweety's stunt.  They had a clip of the stunt and Tweety referred to Watson as Obama's surrogate.  If his surrogate couldn't name any of his accomplishments, then he probably didn't have any.  giggle giggle.

    The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

    by nupstateny on Fri Feb 22, 2008 at 06:11:45 PM PST

  •  He was not out of line. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Canadian Green Card Alien

    Disclosure: I am an Obama supporter and I have donated to his campaign.

    How many times do we bitch on this site about the media not pressing the question?  This one hurts because it's about a guy we like and support.

    The dude was unprepared.  What makes is even worse is that Mathews did the same thing to Wisconsin Governor Doyle.  He should have been prepared.  

    A good lawyer does not ask a question he doesn't know the answer to.   A good politician should not go on TV, much less NATIONAL TV without having a talking point.  

    What is the ONE weakness Obama has?   The perception he is too inexperienced.  Know at least 1 thing he's done.  Who here doesn't know 1 accomplishment for their conversations with their friends and family to convince them to vote Obama?   If you raised your hand, go here and learn something.   Why would you expect LESS from a derogate on a talk show?

    Personally, I think Mathews did Obama a GREAT SERVICE.  Why?  (1) Do you think any other Obama surrogate will go on a talk show without an answer to that question again?  This will be critical in the general.   (2) It gave Mathews on his show the next day and Scarborough the next morning a chance to bring someone on (who was prepared) to ask the same question -- AND THEY WERE PREPARED.  

    Yeah, it was the campaigns low point, but he recovered and is stronger for it.

    If we could get all journalists to press talking heads harder, maybe talking heads would have better things to say than the same old BS non-answer.

    And to top it off, the guy should have gotten out of it.  I am no political genius, but I told my wife this: "If I was in his shoes, I would have come back with something like: 'Chris, I confess I can't name something, but this movement is about more than being able to spout off a talking point - it's about something we sense, it's about hope and it's about change.  That's what we want - we want something different.'"

    That would have shut up Mathews.  He would likely have said something like "you couldn't name something, but you know it is about a movement.  I love this stuff, HAAh!  There's something about this Obama guy."

    Instead, the guy blabbered.  

    America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves. -- Abraham Lincoln

    by dad2jac on Fri Feb 22, 2008 at 06:54:10 PM PST

    •  I'll buy that. (0+ / 0-)

      In the long run, as it turns out, I do believe that Matthews did the Obama campaign a great service, but he didn't set out to do that. He knew he could catch this guy off guard and he went for the kill.

      Now he did invite Senator Claire McCaskill on the next night (as I pointed out in the diary) and served the softball up for her on a tee. But I am sure that it wasn't his idea. I'll bet David Axelrod raised holy hell with the producers to make that happen. You could tell by the way Tweety tried to change the subject after McCaskill had hit it out of the ballpark.  "Well that's that" --or something to that effect. But she would not let him off the hook. She told him she felt sorry Senator Watson and shamed Chrissie a little bit. Then Tweets goes into his "I have to ask the real tough questions around here, because, you know, that's what I do. It's Hardball." Except... it wasn't.

    •  I woulda replied... (0+ / 0-)

      `Go fuck yourself, Matthews. Who the hell do you think you're talking to? Piece of shit...'

      But then, that's just my opinion of Tweety.

  •  Matthews is classless. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bocotton, extradish

    Give his show to Rachel and name it something else.

    I got tased in *The Great Markos Candidate Meltdown Cranky Pants Sting of Ought 7*

    by nolalily on Fri Feb 22, 2008 at 06:57:14 PM PST

  •  Hey, it was not a huge deal (0+ / 0-)

    but matthews is now using it as some kind of badge of honor.

    I will say, the day after , he did show the Watson statement that indicated he froze up and felt bad.

    But today he showed it again..ok,chris ,we all know it is called HARDBALL.
    But Matthews has been good to Obama overall so I am not bitching.

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