Monday, November 23, 2009

The Republican Media- No. 24

It's not Fox News, owned by the man who admits he believes Glenn Beck "was right" when he called our Democratic president a "racist." And it's not CNN, which previously employed Beck, nor the three major commercial networks. (For those under age 40: that would be CBS, NBC, and ABC.)

It would be on the informally designated "liberal" network, MSNBC. When Chris Matthews unoficially campaigned on the air for (now victorious) Repub gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie against incumbent Jon Corzine, one could write it off as a pundit, heavy-set himself, sympathetic toward a candidate he thought was being ridiculed by his girth. Or empathy for a Roman Catholic (as Matthews continually reminds us he is) running against a Protestant (Methodist). Or support for a 'Chris' running against a 'non-Chris.'

But now, in the interest of setting aside prejudice (anti-Protestant, anti-anti-Chris, or imagining a guy who gets out of trouble by pulling rank as U.S. Attorney) as a reason for Matthews' extreme subjectivity in covering the race, there appears to be a more normal factor at play.

Media Matters on November 4 recalled another Democrat whom Matthews, more viciously, campaigned against on air. Here is one of the seven examples cited:

MATTHEWS: Yes. Let me go to John for an always interesting analysis by John Heilemann. John, Al Gore, he appears to us so irregularly. We notice how he gains weight, loses weight, has a beard. He ought to stick around more frequently so people don't notice these things. He's a big guy. He's back. And he's not really a politician, I wouldn't say. Is he a plus? [6/17/08]

MATTHEWS: Express your -- Mike Allen, express your thoughts more clearly. Three questions. Will he jump in this fall? Will she -- will he be ready to jump if in if there's something going wrong with the Clintons by next November? Or will he hold his fire, lose some weight and go back in 2012? [10/12/07]

Matthews wasn't alone, of course. Back in 2002 Bob Somerby pummeled Howard Kurtz, Maureen Dowd, Katie Couric, then-New Republic editor Peter Beinart, the consistently embarassing Morton Kondracke, and, especially, Frank Rich for an elitist (my word) obsession with attacking Al Gore. Somerby was right then as he is now, continuing (most recently under "a few things sounded quite credible") to criticize the Beltway media for its campaign on behalf of the presidential candidacy of George W. Bush (who otherwise would have lost the election by a sufficient margin to be deprived by the Supreme Court of the office he had not won).

Matthews hasn't completely let up on his Gore hate, as Somerby explained (Part 3) last month upon describing the Hardball host's interview of Taylor Branch (The Clinton Tapes):

It was never clear if Branch understood that he was talking to cable’s prime proponent of the tabloid cynicism of the Clinton/Gore years. No one pushed the garbage like Matthews, especially when the warfare was transferred to Candidate Gore. No one worked harder to destroy your nation’s political culture, in the way Branch described.

Cynically, one could accuse Chris Matthews of anti-Protestant prejudice, given that he also was obsessed with Bill Clinton's foibles and voted for Mr. Bush in 2000 and apparently against him in 2004 when the Democratic nominee was afiliated with another major branch of Christendom.

But that might be inaccurate, and probably would be unfair. The real prejudice is against Democrats not named Carter (for whom Matthews worked decades ago) or Obama. (A few nights ago, arguing that Obama may be too "intellectual," Matthews drew back into the 1950s to equate President Obama with Adlai Stevenson-video below- the Carter years evidently having escaped his recollection.)

Wikipedia (although unsourced) quotes Matthews as saying "I'm more conservative than people think I am." And, it would seem, he feels a need to prove it, on what is the most liberal- or, rather, least GOP-oriented- of the three cable news networks.

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