CHRIS MATTHEWS KNOWS SOFTBALL! Jack Welchs hirelings went after Clintonand towel-snapped softballs to Rudy: // link // print // previous // next //
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2007
TOMORROW—BOB NOVAKS HOWLER HISTORY: It happened almost exactly eight years ago. Yep! Bob Novak was affecting the Democratic primary in that election cycle too! In that instance, Novak was pimping an RNC line extremely hard in the weeks before Gore and Bradleys first debate. And omigod! By the weekend after this first debate, he got Al Hunt to adopt it! (This affected much subsequent punditry.) This, of course, was the famous debate where the press corps hissed and jeered Gore for the hour—then invented Group Tales about how bad hed been. First they hissed and jeered for an hour—and then, the real misconduct began. And Novak was in it, up to his years. Tomorrow, for vacation use only, we bring you some rich HOWLER HISTORY.
ROBINSON AND CROWLEY: After his army service, he spent seven years as a journalist...If Gore had said that, it would have been a misstatement. In fact, after his army service, Gore spent five years as a journalist (not seven), at the Nashville Tennessean. A bit later on, the shameless lads returned to their claim about Gore:
ROBINSON AND CROWLEY: [S]tarting in 1994, Gore has added two years to his journalistic experience, upping the figures from the five years he once claimed to seven.Huh! The boys had now said it two separate times! Gore has claimed seven years of journalistic experience, not five, the outraged pair of lads said.
Of course, Robinson and Crowley understood the facts involved in this consummate blather—and they knew that the Globes misused readers did not. Duh! Why had Gore sometimes referred to seven years of journalistic experience? Gore had spent two years as an army journalist—then five more years at the Tennessean. And his mathematical advisers had apparently told Gore that two years plus five years makes seven.
Yes, Robinson and Crowley knew these facts—but the Boston Globes misused readers did not. For some strange reason, the two boys never mentioned these facts in the course of their entire front-page report! The Boston Globes readers were left to wonder why Gore would claim seven years of experience, when the real figure seemed to be five. In such ways, journalists deceived the public for two solid years—and sent George W. Bush to the White House. Today, the blood of Iraq is caked in their hair when these fuzzy-cheeked hit-men play Hardball.
By the way, was Robinson and Crowleys first statement true? Had Gore ever made this claim: After his army service, he spent seven years as a journalist? If Gore had ever made that claim, it would have been wrong—but we had no earthly idea when Gore was supposed to have said that. So we e-mailed Robinson, seeking examples. In Part 1 of that four-part report, we show you the two examples he sent us. And you can see the depths of dishonesty to which journalists like these boys will descend.
Go ahead! Read the entire four-part report; these inexcusable claims about Gores seven years were just the most absurd example of Robinson and Crowleys desire to mislead you. Today, the blood of Iraq is on their hands; it forms a mist when these gruesome lads breathe. But your mainstream press corps has rewards for lads who play such games the right way. Last night, Crowley guest-starred on Hardball again—and Matthews was ranting about how crazy it is to think that Gore got a vile deal.
WHAT THEY DID LATER: In September 2000, Robinson invented the Al Gore lied about the doggy pills gong-show, thereby changing the shape of world history. Crowley played no part in that scam—but he was ready to toy with John Kerry. In June 2002, he wrote that ludicrous early profile for TNR, claiming to spot Kerrys character problems (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/10/02). Readers! Kerry plays show tunes on the guitar! And: He enjoys wind-surfing!
In fairness, Crowley isnt a stupid boy. He graduated from Yale, after all; he surely knows that two years plus five more years adds up to seven years in all. In fact, everyone knew it—except the Globes readers! By total accident, the Boston Globes readers were kept in the dark—and Crowley was slouching toward Hardball.
THE FRUITCAKE MONOLOGUES: The prince punches! Obama goes boom-boom, Matthews said, starting last nights Hardball. (And no, were really not making that up.) Soon enough, this public crackpot was sharing his views about the coverage of Candidate Gore. Well leave the designations of (LAUGHTER) where they appear in the Nexis transcript:
MATTHEWS (11/19/07): Well, let me tell you, let me tell you, theres two—Michael, theres a big difference between what happened to Al Gore and what happened to Bob—John Kerry.Poor Crowley! A familiar warm liquid was filling his shoes when it seemed that his host might be peeved with his statement. After all, what would mommy and daddy say if he lost his position on Hardball? That may be so, sure and right, he soon said. Why, he even remembered to say please and thank you! But there you see a red-faced talkers view of the Campaign 2000 press coverage. And there you see the compliant Crowley, trying hard to assure his host that he never! ever! meant to imply that Candidate Gore got screwed in some manner. (In their five-month study of the coverage in the spring of 2000, Pew specifically cited Hardball as the place to hear the most Gore-trashing.)
CHRIS MATTHEWS KNOWS SOFTBALL: Poor David Broder! In recent days, he finds himself longing for better debates! In Sundays column, he rolled his eyes at those worthless TV impresarios:
BRODER (11/18/07): That is revealing of the weakness of these debates as tools for helping voters decide which candidate to support. The TV impresarios are so eager for headlines they rarely pause to ask the candidates for evidence to support their opinions or assertions. It is bang-bang, but rarely because-and-here's-proof.Darn those TV showmen! Given Broders fuller context, it was clear that CNNs Wolf Blitzer was one of the showmen the Dean was upbraiding. But were Russert, Williams and Matthews included? Darlings! Stop asking! It just isnt done! Blitzer lies outside the circle. Larger men just cant be named!
In truth, how sad is the shape of our public discourse? We thought you might want to see the kinds of questions asked of Republicans in a recent debate. More specifically, we all sat through the Evening of Gotcha when Russert and Williams, holding hands for courage, tried to wrestle the Democratic front-runner to the ground. But what kinds of question were asked by Chris Matthews at this same networks previous Republican debate? When we examine that question, we see the outline of an agenda that seems to rule at this gruesome network. And we wonder why a great man like Broder hasnt yet noticed this problem.
On October 30, Russert and Williams battered Clinton all evening. But uh-oh! Three weeks before, Chris Matthews co-hosted a Republican debate, a debate about economic issues. And heres the second question this big fixer asked. It went to the Republican front-runner:
MATTHEWS (10/9/07): Just to test your forecasting ability, Mr. Mayor, will [Joe] Torre keep his job?Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Everyone shared a good solid laugh as Matthews towel-snapped with his buddy about the fate of the Yankees skipper. A bit later, the host enjoyed another bit of bonhomie with the front-runner, this time after he had asked a typically inane question:
MATTHEWS: This is a 30-second answer. And the question is, are unions good for America? And please act like you're a member of a union and limit it to 30 seconds. (Laughter.) Okay?Even before the thirty seconds was up, Matthews stopped Giulianis answer, engaging again in the towel-snapping that shows Rudys one of the boys.
But then, Matthews questions were soft—and inane—all through the tedious evening. He shared time with Maria Bartiromo, who managed to pose some halfway serious queries. But Matthews would prove himself all debate long. He showed no sign of preparation—and no desire to challenge the hopefuls. This question to Saint McCain, for example, could have been run as an ad:
MATTHEWS: Senator McCain, this is close to your heart. How would you catch bin Laden?A few weeks later, Russert and Williams were tearing at Clinton—in at least three cases, by asking questions which have turned out to be factually bogus. By contrast, Matthews was vouching for Saint Johns good heart. But then, he had already lobbed this nostalgic softball at him:
MATTHEWS: Let me ask Senator McCain: You know, when a lot of us grew up in the late '50s and early '60s, a young guy could come out of high school, marry his girlfriend from school, get a job at a big industrial plant making planes or making subways and provide for a family with a middle-class income and his spouse wouldn't have to work. Will we ever go back to that world again?But then, Matthews lobbed softballs all evening long. His question were often invitations to orate. Here was an early example:
MATTHEWS: Congressman Paul, I think you have questions and concerns about the bonanza in the hedge-fund industry. Do you?Congressman Paul gave his speech on the subject—and Matthews was soon asking the following questions, in sequence. There was no follow-up to anything said in this tedious sequence:
MATTHEWS: Governor Huckabee, tell us about your Fair Tax. You're going to get rid of the IRS. You're going to have a, basically a consumer tax. Won't that discourage spending? The American economy seems to always be driven by people buying things maybe they can't even afford. If you put a tax on spending as opposed to income, won't that encourage people to hoard their money rather than spend it, and hurt the economy?Huckabee gave his Fair Tax speech, then Hunter and Thompson got to give speeches too. Everyone got to say what he wanted. By the way, that question to Huckabee actually counted as one of the best-researched questions Matthews would ask all night long. No, there was no follow-up; Huckabee got to say what he pleased. But this was one of the only times when Matthews even suggested that something could imaginably be wrong with a Republican outlook.
How inept was Matthews this night? Many of this daft mans questions seemed to puzzle the contestants. Giuliani was plainly confused at the start of this oddball query, for instance:
MATTHEWS: Okay, let's go to the police. How would you police the Internet culturally, Mr. Mayor?But then, the mayor also seemed a bit confused by the very first question Matthews asked:
MATTHEWS: Mayor Giuliani, the private equity firms are making billions of dollars. I guess it's a mystery to me—and you can explain it as a New Yorker, where— These billions of dollars, where were they before? And is there any downside to this amazing bonanza in the hedge fund and the private equity firms?Amazingly, that was Matthews very first question—and Giuliani showed little sign of understanding what he was talking about. (We cant really say that we blame him.) Well, I mean, the market is a wonderful thing, he began—and no, he didnt say a word which seemed responsive to Matthews questions. But no worry: Matthews soon broke in with his follow-up question—about Joe Torres future.
Thats what occurred on October 9. Three weeks later, Russert and Matthews tore at Clinton all evening long, asking their factually-bogus gotchas. We have no idea why Russert has now done two straight Dem debates, with fawning Matthews fobbed off on Republicans. But the gentlemans work was so gruesome this evening that the Washington Posts Steven Pearlstein, a financial reporter, sounded off in an on-line chat the next day. Remember, this had been billed as a debate on economic issues. It was Matthews groaning incompetence in that field to which the scribe seems to refer:
PEARLSTEIN (10/10/07): You get to a subject near and dear to my heart, which is the performance of the political press. And, frankly, it is clear that they, once again, have learned nothing from the past, learned nothing from the criticism that was leveled at them in the last two elections, learned nothing from the declining respect they get from their readers and viewers.Ouch. For ourselves, we thought you might want to see the kinds of question Republicans get from Jack Welchs Lost Boys. Matthews seemed to be totally unprepared—for everything except towel-snapping. He clowned with Rudy; fawned to Saint John; and gave us yet another look at the broken-souled shape of his horrible news org. Six weeks later, no one has mentioned these softball questions. The truth is, no one will.
SO LITTLE TIME, SO MANY SOFTBALLS: How thoroughly worthless was Matthews this night? Remember, he only did part of the debate. But here was another piercing question:
MATTHEWS: Senator Brownback, who would be your top economic adviser, your ideal adviser for economics?And of course, this zinger, for a good buddy:
MATTHEWS: Mayor Giuliani, would it be good for the country, for the voters of the country, to have a third-party option?Plainly, Matthews had nothing to ask; he seemed to have done no research whatever. Three weeks later, Williams and Russert seemed to be oppo-researched to the gills. But NBC has played this way for years. When will the liberal world say so?