Stop Chris Matthews

In the past few months I’ve taken up watching Hardball again after more than four years of avoiding it. I swore off in 2001 because host Chris Matthews was just too obviouly shilling for the VRWC.

More recently he had settled down a bit. Matthews still has shit for brains, but sometimes he has good guests. His interview style is based on the ten thousand monkeys principle — you know, if you leave ten thousand monkeys in a warehouse full of typewriters, eventually — it may take centuries, but eventually — random monkey typing will produce an actual sentence. In Matthews’s case, the technique is to spew out as many words as he can in the course of a program, and randomly some of the words come together to make points. Or not. But, like I said, recently he’s had some good guests.

But this week Tweety the VRWC shill is back in all his glory. I swear he spent his entire Tuesday and Wednesday programs wanking over Hillary Clinton and the “plantation” speech. I believe the only thing that kept him from going at it again for a third full night was the Osama bin Laden tape.

And the monkey mouth spake, thus: Bin Laden “sounds like an over the top Michael Moore here, if not a Michael Moore.”

I admit I heard this and let it wash past me like the noise that it is, but today Peter Daou writes that we should demand an apology. And he’s right.

One reason the Right gets catered to the mass media is that it throws a screaming fit over every little slight, real or imagined, of their inviolable world view. Today, for example, the Right Blogosphere is on the rampage over the caption of this Associated Press photo: “Exiled Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden is seen in this April 1998 file photo in Afghanistan.”

The problem? Michelle Malkin: “Got that? Osama isn’t a mass-murdering terrorist mastermind. He’s just a poor, exiled dissident who disagrees with civilization.”

They’re on a rampage over this caption, I tell you. Check out the links at Memeorandum.

Now, I think bin Laden is a mass-murdering terrorist mastermind, but by journalism 101 rules he’s an alleged mass-murdering terrorist mastermind until found guilty in court. There are certain principles and practices that professional journalists are supposed to adhere to, and one of them is maintaining a dispassionate distance from one’s subjects. ObL is an exiled Saudi dissident, among other things, so it’s a factually objective caption.

But as Peter Daou says, “last I checked, Michael Moore didn’t massacre thousands of innocent Americans.” Matthews’s comment was not professional. It was not dispassionate or objective. It was shilling for the Right by slandering a well-known personality of the Left. Daou quotes John Kerry:

You’d think the only focus tonight would be on destroying Osama Bin Laden, not comparing him to an American who opposes the war whether you like him or not. You want a real debate that America needs? Here goes: If the administration had done the job right in Tora Bora we might not be having discussions on Hardball about a new Bin Laden tape. How dare Scott McClellan tell America that this Administration puts terrorists out of business when had they put Osama Bin Laden out of business in Afghanistan when our troops wanted to, we wouldn’t have to hear this barbarian’s voice on tape. That’s what we should be talking about in America.

So today I join many others and demand that Chris Matthews publicly apologize to Michael Moore. If you want to join in, you can email Hardball — [email protected] — and MSNBC TV — [email protected] The phone number for the Secaucus studio from which Hardball originates is 201-583-5000, and the fax is 201-583-5453. Contacting your local MSNBC affiliates that carry Hardball might be even more effective, though.

Update: What James Wolcott says:

Michael Moore didn’t bring down the towers, Howard Dean isn’t responsible for Bin Laden remaining at large, and, unlike the fisking blogger, the overwhelming majority of liberal Manhattanites didn’t lose their nerve and flee the city after 9/11. They, we, stayed put. It’s the cowardly lions who curled up into a fetal ball and remain there today, talking tough and fooling no one but themselves.