Let’s play No Balls with Chris Matthews
Imagine somebody accusing the President of the United States of going AWOL on a national, primetime, cable news show. On your show, nonetheless.
Then imagine your gimmick is to bill yourself as somebody who always plays Hardball - to use the name of Chris Matthews’ one-hour, nightly show on the ratings-starved MSNBC network. My God, you would have to salivate at the chance. What an opportunity to play Hardball.
Well that was exactly what happened on May 7 when Matthews asked Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, “Why does everybody do the wrong thing in politics now? Why are the Democrats so stupid as to attack the best picture in years from a president?” when discussing President Bush’s recent photo-op aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.
She responded by stating, “But they should go after this because it was - it was a Technicolor movie for two reasons. Look, what he’s doing on shore, hurting veterans while he’s strutting aboard that ship. And two, to be honest, Chris, this man was never - he went AWOL, you know, for a year in the National Guard. More important, they got a lot to work with, the Democrats.”
How could somebody ask for a better opportunity to play Hardball than after a person accused the leader of America of having gone AWOL during his time in the National Guard? Instead, Matthews played No Balls. Ignoring the opportunity to get into a good-old-fashioned political donnybrook about the highly-charged statement, the next words out of Matthews’ mouth were: “Michael Graham.” (Writer’s note: Maybe Matthews was just too busy thinking about returning to Comedy Central’s The Daily Show and again trying to convince people MSNBC has not bent hard to the right in recent months to ask a follow-up question about the AWOL statement. Or maybe he was thinking about doing more commercials for Joe Scarborough and Keith Olbermann.)
After a brief statement by vanden Heuvel, Graham, the person on the conservative side for the standard left wing vs. right wing cable television sound-off, responded by saying, “Katrina, you know, X-men 2 was a multi-Technicolorful spectacle, whatever. It grossed $100 million. George W. Bush won the election when he got out of that plane and people saw how much fun he was having. It was a direct emotional visceral connection.”
Right there on national television, a person accused President Bush of going AWOL. The host responded by ignoring the comment and never returning to the subject. The conservative mouthpiece responded by talking about a movie.
That shows what a taboo the subject is among cable news networks and most people in the mainstream press. For those who don’t know, legitimate questions exist as to whether Bush actually fulfilled his obligation when flying planes for the National Guard. Maybe people who want to believe the stories blow them out of proportion. That’s probably not the case, though.
Besides, when has that ever stopped cable news networks in the past?
If nothing else, there are enough questions surrounding Bush’s last two years in the National Guard that they deserve legitimate answers, especially if he decides to pimp some pseudo-military bravado for a photo-op. Instead, the comment was greeted with less of a response than vanden Heuvel would have received if she sneezed from a member of the so-called liberal media elite.
Here is a copy of the actual transcript as copied from MSNBC.com.
MATTHEWS: Why does everybody do the wrong thing in politics now? Why are the Democrats so stupid as to attack the best picture in years from a president?
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, EDITOR, THE NATION: But they should go after this because it was-it was a Technicolor movie for two reasons. Look, what he’s doing on shore, hurting veterans while he’s strutting aboard that ship. And two, to be honest, Chris, this man was never - he went AWOL, you know, for a year in the National Guard.
More important, they got a lot to work with, the Democrats.
MATTHEWS: Michael Graham.
VANDEN HEUVEL: They’ve got a lot to work with.
MICHAEL GRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: You know, Kristina (sic)...
VANDEN HEUVEL: The unemployment, the what they’re doing, this administration, to the states facing the worst crisis since the Depression. So why go after this patriotic Technicolor spectacle in the way Henry Waxman does? Let him do the corporate profiteering investigation.
GRAHAM: Katrina, you know, “X-men 2” was a multi-Technicolorful spectacle, whatever. It grossed $100 million. George W. Bush won the election when he got out of that plane and people saw how much fun he was having. It was a direct emotional visceral connection. Every time the Democrats talk about it, his numbers are going up much.
Chris, do you remember when Reagan was getting bashed in the media? They’d go out and show these press bits where he would stand in front of Grand Canyon. And they’d say, yes he’s in front of the Grand Canyon but he’s cutting money for the environment. Afterwards, his numbers went up on the environment because the pictures were so good. It’s brilliant.
The Democrats are pounding themselves in the head with a hammer. I’m with Congressman Dreier. Leave Waxman on the air for a couple weeks and Bush will be in the 90 percentile.
VANDEN HEUVEL: I care about the issue. I don’t care about...
Dave Sutor [4:17 PM]