JUST AS IT EVER WAS! Eight years ago, just like today, Matthews was picking your candidate: // link // print // previous // next //
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2007
AN ASTONISHING WORLD: As we told you last week, were now seeing a remarkable display of propaganda each evening on Hardball. Chris Matthews is trying to pick your nominee for you—just as he tried to do eight years ago—and the pimping of Obama has reached an astonishing level. Last night, Matthews clowned through his entire program, starting with a remarkable interview with Obama aide David Axelrod. But heres the way the NBC journalist started, right at the top of the program:
MATTHEWS (11/12/07) Can Barack really do it?On Hardball, catching and passing Hillary Clinton now explicitly makes you a hero. After the intro music died, Matthews continued his pimping:
MATTHEWS (continuing directly): Good evening, Im Chris Matthews. Welcome to Hardball.Matthews continued this way all through the hour. He trashed Democrats in a string of remarkable ways; he shaped his praise of Obama around the notion that only Obama will tell us the truth about the problems with Social Security.
We live in a deeply disordered world, when a multimillionaire plutocrat crackpot like Matthews can drive our discourse in this way—with barely a peep from our liberal organs, whose editors love to guest on his program. Well look at that problem all this week (see below). Tomorrow, well likely offer more excerpts from last nights remarkable program.
But make no mistake: The Team That Welch Built is trying hard to select your nominee for you (again). Theyre reciting old RNC scripts as they do. This is an astonishing world.
Special report: Profiles discouraged!
PART 2—JUST AS IT EVER WAS: If youve watched Chris Matthews in the past few weeks, youve seen familiar, appalling behavior; youve seen a Democratic front-runner endlessly trashed for the way she claps her hands. And yes, you read that correctly! Over and over, Matthews has played tape of Hillary Clinton clapping her hands; he has then attacked her, in highly personal ways, for her troubling, Chinese-style behavior (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/12/07). But then, Matthews has long been a trasher of Major Dems, as pretty much everybody knows—except readers of liberal journals, of course. With Matthews, this has gone on for a very long time. Indeed, the nonsense hes aiming at Candidate Clinton neatly tracks the trashing he extended to Candidate Gore from March 1999 on.
Simply put, Matthews conduct in the past dozen years has been little short of astounding. But again, we note the most remarkable fact about this highly public nut-case: Right to this day, youve never seen a profile of Matthews which even begins to describe or critique the extent of his ludicrous—and repellent—conduct. Not in The Nation; not in Salon; not in The New Republic, or The Prospect, or The Washington Monthly. Nowhere, not even in liberal journals, have you even begun to see an accurate profile of this mans disturbed conduct. All this week, were going to ask you: Why do you think that is?
Yep! Its amazing to see this public nut-case engaged in his fruity conduct again, knowing that, in the past dozen years, no liberal journal has ever bothered to describe or critique this conduct. But uh-oh! Precisely for that reason, some of us may not fully realize how disgraceful—how bizarre—this mans conduct has been! This morning, lets return to the fall of 1999, to see how Matthews was conducting himself then. More precisely, lets watch as Matthews tries to convince the world that Bill Bradley is a man of high character and Al Gore is a ruthless man who is willing to do and say anything.
In fairness, Bradley was being laughably puffed all through the mainstream press corps. Everyone knew he was a man of high character—a straight shooter with exceptionally high authenticity who was wonderfully comfortable in his own skin. Just as Obama has been puffed in the past few weeks, Bradley was puffed all though that fall. But to see how foolish the coverage could be, one had to turn—where else?—to Hardball. Many others played the fool about Bradley. But Matthews played the fool best of all.
Yep! Throughout the fall, Matthews and his scripted guests were putting the press corps new narrative into place—and every sign, no matter how trivial, showcased Bill Bradleys great character. Meanwhile, the assessments of Bradley were often accompanied by punishing contrasts with Gore. One man was being mindlessly puffed; the other was being mindlessly trashed. The same dynamic exists today as Matthews presents his mindless displays about Obama and Clinton.
How absurd would Hardball be as the pimping of Bradley unfolded? On September 7, 1999, Howard Fineman appeared on the show to discuss his new profile of Bradley in Newsweek. He found his host in typical form; after playing tape of Gore to open the segment, Matthews compared Gore to a Chinese poster (note that weird Chinese fetish again) and a man-like object—a phrase he would apply to Gore on three separate programs that month. In response, Fineman praised Bradley as a Boy Scout and a sports hero straight out of central casting, and as a man who had spent more time with African-Americans in a work environment, albeit the NBA, than anybody else whos ever run. I think thats a big appeal, Matthews gravely judged.
But then, invidious comparison, served up straight, was par for the course now on Hardball. When Fineman returned on September 21, Matthews introduced the segment on presidential politics by comparing Gore, whos part of the bathtub ring, to this clean-as-a-whistle NBA star, Bill Bradley. Repeatedly, Gore was called a man-like object and the bathtub ring, and of course robotic (and Mr. Wizard). But then, here was Matthews a few weeks later, with Fineman and former Democratic congressman Ben Jones, reviewing tape of another Gore speech, treating the public like wash-rags again:
MATTHEWS (10/12/99): That strikes me as virtual reality. Theres a man—Ben Jones, you were a congressman—where he, hes reading every word from his script! And then it must say in his script, Now walk out from behind the lectern and start slashing on—your arms, talking about slashing. And he did it almost like an automaton, like—thats what Churchill once said of Molotov, you know, the, the closest thing to a human robot.To his credit, Jones didnt seem to know what to say. But on Hardball, the idea that Gore was robotically scripted was part of an emerging script, robotically voiced by crackpot Matthews in every conceivable situation. Meanwhile, the Hardball host was highly inventive in fleshing out Bradleys great character—the same skill he is showing today in his fawning assessments of Obama. On September 7, for example, Matthews had surely set a new world record for ludicrous assessment of character. In this previously-cited exchange with Fineman, Matthews explains why Bradley is so appealing. Its because of his five oclock shadow and his receding hairline, the crackpot Hardball host said:
FINEMAN (9/7/99): [Bradleys] straight out of central casting in the old-fashioned sense: well-credentialedBradleys hairline and his five oclock shadow now showed him to be a real guy. Within the wider press corps, these traits were added to Bradleys beat-up car, rumpled clothes and dated neckties as signs of his great authenticity. And for Matthews, Bradleys hairline was no passing fancy. It arose again when Fineman returned to Hardball two weeks later:
MATTHEWS (9/21/99): I think hes do, hes gonna do much better [than Gore] among men. And I think that receding hairline of his is gonna be a lot more popular than Clintons Maginot Line hairline, because a lot of guys say they cant figure out Clinton because he never seems to lose any hair. And look at this guy, Bradley. He looks like a regular guy youd bump into.Again, Bradleys hairline made him a regular guy. Two nights later, Matthews went there again, speaking with low-IQ author Peter Maas:
MATTHEWS (9/23/99): Well, what do you make of the guy up there in New York, where youre at—what do you make of guys like Dollar Bill Bradley, the gritty NBA star that goes out on the court with guys like Russell and Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson? And heres a gritty, real guy with a receding hairline. He looks like a real guy. He looks like Bruce Willis, not Pierce Brosnan or Mel Gibson. Do you think were gonna go back to that era of looking for guys that are real guys?Luckily, Maas understood what Matthews wanted. I, theyre—were looking for the genuine article, is what were looking for, he compliantly, dumbly replied.
In this conversation, Bradleys hairline had helped us see that he was a real guy, a regular guy—gritty and genuine. In fairness, inane conversations about authenticity and character were sweeping through the press at this time—but no one did it dumber than Matthews. Unless it was hapless Tim Russert, of course, who devoted the November 14 Meet the Press to the wonders of Bradleys high character.
Yep! Given the depth of Jack Welchs stable, you didnt have to turn to cable for comical proffers of Bradleys great character. Indeed, one of the high points in the fall punditry would come on that Meet the Press clown-a-thon. On that day, Bradley was conducting a fund-raising event at Madison Square Garden, featuring teammates from the 1973 New York Knicks. Result? All three Sunday network talk shows booked groups of former NBA stars. With varying degrees of absurdity and irrelevance, the stars waxed about Bradleys character.
The most comical exchanges occurred on Meet the Press, where Russert led the discussion. In truth, to call Russerts work this day embarrassing would be to engage in major fluffing. In the course of the roughly twenty-minute session, he asked such probing questions as these:
To Dave Debusschere: You were Bill Bradleys roommate on the road for all those years. What kind of roommate was he?Debusschere gave a stirring reply about the intentions of former athletes. On and on the nonsense went. Surely, one of the silliest moments in Sunday morning TV history came in this exchange with Jerry Lucas:
RUSSERT: Jerry Lucas, you were Bill Bradleys teammate on the New York Knicks, helped win the 1973 championship. It was said to me the other day by a close friend of Bill Bradleys that you taught him some memory tricks, some memory games. You are known for memorizing telephone books. It said that Bill Bradley can walk into a room and remember names because of something that Jerry Lucas taught him. True?In his question, Russert praised Bradleys ability to memorize names in crowded rooms. In October, of course, Sebastian Mallaby had praised the star in the Washington Post because he doesnt pay attention to names in such settings. (This showed how appealingly genuine Bradley is.) But so it would routinely go as the press corps spun its inane Master Narrative, inventing ways to further the story. Incredibly, even after Lucas scripted reply, Russert returned a bit later to the topic of memory, asking Lucas, How would you rate his intellect, his memory, for retention, for detail? Lucas fleshed out the key point:
LUCAS: Super. Bill is one of the most intelligent people Ive ever known. Ive had the opportunity—Bill and I did some unique things when we played. We did a couple of little things that the rest of our teammates didnt know about to communicate with one another in some very unique ways.Like what? Like what? Russert asked, goggle-eyed. After Lucas said that he and Bradley had used codes on the floor, Russert moved to nail down the story. Were these audio codes or finger signs or what? he quickly asked:
LUCAS: Audio codes.So it went, through the lengthy segment, on Americas most storied news program. This complete, utter, screaming nonsense occurred eight years ago this week.
Russerts performance was an utter embarrassment, the segment a pure infomercial. During the session, we learned that Bradley was intelligent; very intelligent; very, very intelligent; compassionate; bright; and a super-patriot. He was very strong and very concerned—a great leader but also a great listener. Adding to the air of total absurdity, Russert voiced a disclaimer to start the next segment. You should know, he told his remaining handful of viewers, we asked the Al Gore campaign to provide celebrities who would support him. They declined. So it went as the press corps agenda declined into gossip and trivia.
But then, Matthews and Russert were doing the same thing then that theyre doing today. They were trying to select the Democratic nominee—and behaving like fools in the process. Everything seemed to show Bradleys high character—and everything showed what a slime-ball Gore was. Youre seeing the very same practice enacted today, each evening, on the crackpot show Hardball.
Duh! In those chats about Gore and Bradley, Matthews showcased the same ugly traits he is showing today in his gong-show discussions of Clintons hand-clapping. In particular, he showed his unending obsession with inane gender issues; he showed the Archie Bunker soul he has routinely displayed in the trashing of Clinton. Later this week, well watch Matthews as he slimes Naomi Wolf, eight years ago this week. And well watch as he trashes liberal women who dare to disagree with his ludicrous conduct. But then, his disordered gender thinking—and his loathing of women—have always been abundantly clear. But aint it strange? For reasons well ask you to ponder this week, this remarkable conduct has never been profiled in any major progressive journal! For reasons we cant begin to grasp, even Matthews endless trashing of women has failed to arouse the liberal conscience.
By the way: The press corps showed its standard bad judgment in its scripted assessments of Gore and Bradleys character. What happened after Campaign 2000—after Matthews endless trashing of Gore helped send Bush to the White House? Bradley disappeared into obscurity, never to be seen or heard from again. (He published a book a few months ago; it disappeared with barely a trace.) By contrast, Gore decided to stay and fight—and despite the continuing scorn of the Village, he has transformed the worlds discussion of global warming. But back in the fall of 1999, a crackpot named Matthews could see very clearly that Bradley was the vastly superior man. His five oclock shadow provided one clue; his hair-line provided yet another. Matthews insults your intelligence the same way now, complaining about Clintons vile hand-clapping.
Matthews conduct has been astounding for years, as well continue to see all week. But whats the most remarkable thing about Matthews? Its the fact that this has barely produced a peep from our liberal journals. Youve never seen this conduct described in anything like a full profile. By some miracle of group erudition, Walsh and vanden Heuvel and Beinart and Tomasky have all known to keep their big traps shut when it comes to this disordered mans assault on your discourse, your party, your values, your interests. Indeed, Walsh has gone out of her way to praise Matthews repellent work, as well see at the end of the week. And isnt it funny? By complete accident, some of these very same people have ended up as regular guests on Hardball! You should be furious, angry, disturbed at the way they sell you away.
TOMORROW—PART 3: Trashing Gore—and trashing women. More of Matthews unprofiled work.
THAT SAME DAY: On that very same Meet the Press, Russert briefly discussed Gore with a panel. At one point, the great man said this:
RUSSERT (11/14/99): Don't forget that Al Gore called—said that Bill Clinton was one of the greatest presidents in history. David Maraniss, that's not something that Al Gore can run away from.Today, of course, they all insist that Gore should have talked about Clinton much more! In real time, they kicked him sh*tless for the things he said.
Moments later, by the way, Russert noted that Gore was doing better among women in the New Hampshire polls—being careful to mock Gore as he did with his comments about alpha/beta. Jane Mayer replied, perhaps drolly:
RUSSERT: Amongst men and women-look at this gender gap. Bill Bradley wins men 54-38. Al Gore wins women 53-35. So whether he's alpha or beta, Jane Mayer, Al Gore is beating Bill Bradley amongst women in New Hampshire.In fact, Mayer was speaking with one of those dumb-assed men—and he was trying, very hard, to tell you who to pick for your candidate. But then, hes doing the same thing today. So too, every night, is the un-profiled Chris Matthews.