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Print view: Chris Matthews made a comical claim, helping us name a sick culture
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TALKER’S LAMENT! Chris Matthews made a comical claim, helping us name a sick culture: // link // print // previous // next //

Let’s play softball/When Vitter fell: Chris Matthews got very excited this week about an exciting sex story. We thought you might want to see what he did when a major Republican got snared in a thrilling sex tale.

Let’s return to July 2007, to the time when we learned that David Vitter had been a client of the very exciting “D.C. Madam.”

For ourselves, we don’t care a whole lot about Vitter’s sexual conduct—nor do we care about Weiner’s. But Matthews has ranted and frothed this week.

What did he do back then?

As we noted yesterday, the very exciting Vitter story broke on Monday, July 9, 2007. The press corps learned that Vitter’s name appeared in the records of the so-called “D.C. Madam.” Vitter released a public statement, saying this in part: "This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible.”

But Matthews didn’t froth and rave when this major Republican stumbled this way. Here’s what he did instead:

On Monday, July 9, Vitter wasn’t mentioned on Hardball. (Vitter’s public statement had been made after the show went to air.)

On Tuesday, July 10, Matthews did mention the exciting new story. But how odd! He didn’t froth or rave or fling poo about David Vitter’s bad conduct! His first discussion of the matter came in an interview with Christopher Dodd. Wouldn’t you know it! Matthews was a very good boy when discussing Vitter’s fall:

MATTHEWS (7/10/11): On a less dramatic point, I have to ask you about one of your colleagues. David Vitter has just declared that he was on the, his name is listed with the so-called "D.C. madam." He was apparently a client of one of the prostitutes in D.C. Is that an issue that’s going to haunt us? Are we going to have a lot more names popping off that list?

DODD: I don’t know, Chris. He’s going through a lot personally right now, and I’m not going to get into that. That`s a matter that I have no comment on whatsoever.

MATTHEWS: No comment on that.


MATTHEWS: Well, thank you very much, Senator Christopher Dodd, running for the United States presidency.

How odd! Matthews wasn’t frothing or foaming or rubbing his penis or throwing his poo all around. (His immediate instinct was to suggest that others might be involved.) Later, he raised the matter again. He spoke about “poor David Vitter,” who had played Hardball before:

MATTHEWS: Tom, we will be right back with April and also with David. We will be right back. We have to show you the ads the Democrats are running against the vulnerable Republicans, and also talk about poor David Vitter, who’s been in that chair, by the way, a number of times, United States senator from Louisiana, who’s got his name listed now. He put it out himself—probably good politics—that he was on a call girl’s list. You’re watching Hardball, only on MSNBC.

In fact, Vitter did not “put it out himself.” He only acted when he learned that his name had become public record. But in those excerpts, you see Matthews’ full discussion of this matter on this evening’s program. Despite the tease, he did not “talk about poor David Vitter” when Hardball came back on the air.

By the way: Those excerpts represent Matthews’ full discussion of the Vitter matter for the next seven weeks! Vitter wasn’t mentioned at all on the July 11 Hardball. Matthews then went off on a long summer weekend, presumably in his $4.4 million home on Nantucket—the house that Jack Welch built. He returned to host the Hardball programs of July 16, July 17 and July 18; Vitter wasn’t mentioned on any of those programs either. In fact, Matthews didn’t mention Vitter again until the August 28 program. At that time, the arrest of Senator Larry Craig dragged this whole topic up.

For ourselves, we don’t care much about these sexual stories, thrilling though they may be. But Matthews managed not to froth when a major Republican fell. This stands in stark contrast to the big major frothing he has engaged in this week.

By the way: Guest host Mike Barnicle conducted a full discussion of Vitter on the Hardball program of Friday, July 13, 2007. Basically, Barnicle challenged poor Vitter’s accusers. We’ll show you those transcripts tomorrow.

On Hardball, reactions were very different when a Republican fell.

Just a reminder: A range of major career liberal players have kissed Matthews’ keister for years. Why do you have to come to this site to learn about his conduct?

Why aren’t you reading about this at TPM? Can anyone even guess?

Special report: The culture which has no name!

PART 3—TALKER’S LAMENT (permalink): Is it possible that the familiar word “tabloid” names the press corps’ culture?

Tabloidism is part of the mix. Just consider the exciting front page of Sunday’s Outlook section. (Outlook is the Washington Post’s weekly ideas/issues section.)

Classic Outlook! On its front page, the section featured this exciting piece about the exciting “SlutWalk” movement. This permitted Outlook editors to give readers some cheap, thrilling thrills:

The top half of the section’s front page was dominated by a photo of four young women. And people! Three of the women were wearing brassieres! Without any blouses at all! Even more thrilling, the exciting word “slutty” appeared in very large type as part of the article’s headline:

“As slutty as we want to be,” the hard-copy headline said.

Was this a bow to “tabloid” culture? Presumably, yes it was. At least, that seems to be the opinion of Jessica Valenti, the feminist writer who authored the piece in question.

For the record, we’re fans of Valenti around here, although we wouldn’t necessarily vouch for her political judgment. (No one’s perfect.) Valenti is the type of person who actually challenged Keith Olbermann’s misogyny in real time, as it was actually happening. “Liberal” political writers criticized his misogyny too; in fact, they did so in very harsh terms. But they stated their views in private, when no one else could hear (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/28/11).

Valenti spoke in the open air. She did the same Monday on Morning Joe, explaining why her “SlutWalk” piece was number one at the Post web site. In the following excerpt, she spoke with Mark Halperin and Joe Scarborough. To watch the whole segment, click this:

HALPERIN (6/6/11): I’m all for irony, but why not call these “empowerment walks” and avoid the controversy and the—

VALENTI: Do you think I’d be sitting here if they were called “empowerment walks?”

SCARBOROUGH: Would it [the article] be number one in the Washington

HALPERIN: No, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the right thing to do

VALENTI: It is if what you’re looking for is to start a national conversation about rape and victim-blaming. If you need to get that kind of attention, that’s what you do.

We’ll be surprised if this national conversation ends up going anywhere, although you never know. But Valenti seemed to suggest that you maybe have to go for the flash if you want to see your piece reach the front page of Outlook. By her own account, the tabloid excitement of the word “slut” gave her piece its pop.

Did Outlook select this piece for its tabloid thrills? You’d be a fool to think otherwise; the children of the “mainstream press” adore the thrill of hot sex. As one example, Chris Matthews has been frothing this week over all the Weiner excitement, much as he did when he got himself very hot with crackpot Clinton accusers. Kathleen Willey was his dearest darling, someone who got him very excited. And of course, in August 1999, he gave Gennifer Flowers a full half hour, telling her how attractive she was even as she told the world about all the Clintons’ murders.

Your “mainstream press corps” adores tabloid pop. But that familiar word doesn’t name the culture we’re discussing this week.

What culture have we been talking about? Consider a comical comment Matthews made as he frothed and foamed Monday night about vile vulgar Weiner.

Matthews had himself quite worked up about vile Weiner’s bad conduct. As a sign of his high excitement, he even kept trying to drag Weiner’s wife into the stew (see below). But at one point, this excitable fellow made a truly ludicrous comment. Speaking to Michael Steele and the trained seal Fineman, the laughable talker said this:

MATTHEWS (6/6/11): Here’s more of Weiner today and his amazing confession. It was late today. It was supposed to be at four o’clock. It came a bit after four Eastern time, right before we went on with Hardball tonight. It’s one of those amazing stories, like if you ever saw "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," the bad senator finally said, “Everything he said is true.” It took him only a week. Here’s Weiner talking, finally:

WEINER (videotape): I’m deeply ashamed of my terrible judgment and actions. I came here to accept full responsibility for what I’ve done…I am deeply regretting what I have done, and I am not resigning.

MATTHEWS: OK, I want to do—I’m not going to do this tonight, but I’m going to do this maybe later in the show, I might do it. A week of lying to the press, reporters just doing— Some of the job that we do isn’t grand. This isn’t about what we should be talking about tonight, the debt ceiling, and America’s bond rating right now—

STEELE: That’s right.

MATTHEWS: —and the trouble we’re in as a country. But this is news. Here’s a major figure who, as you pointed out, plays a partisan role. He’s like Bernie Sanders. All during the fight over the budget, he was as reliable as a lamp post.

Matthews was often incoherent this night, so strong was the thrill up his leg. But yes, he actually said it! In the grip of his high excitement, he seemed to complain that the Weiner news had kept him from discussing the debt ceiling matter! Weiner’s misconduct had kept him from the topic he should be discussing.

Sometimes, you just have to fall on the floor, laughing at this public nutcase.

People! When has this excitable fellow ever discussed the debt ceiling? (Answer below.) When has this nutcase ever discussed any such serious topic? Matthews enjoys discussing Weiner’s wee-wee; as a back-up, he likes to rant about the “exciting” way Sarah Palin looks when she “walks and moves” all around. (“Exciting” was the term he used when he studied this topic last week.) As a backup, he likes to sit around with his trained seals and discuss the alleged personalities of the various candidates, generally repeating the same stale ideas night after night after night.

This program airs at 5 PM; prep starts right around 4:55. The idea that Matthews was chomping at the bit this Monday, hoping to discuss our credit rating—well, that was one of the funniest moments in all of cable “news” history.

Let’s be fair. Matthews and his various seals have conducted lengthy discussions of Newt Gingrich’s supposed “debt” to Tiffany’s; on Hardball, that’s a key topic. But according to the Nexis archives, Matthews has conducted exactly one discussion of the debt ceiling/debt limit issue; that came in a fatuous mini-segment on June 1 with Marsha Blackburn, a Republican congresswoman Matthews like to book, most likely because she’s good looking.

The discussion started in typical fashion. Blackburn simply ducked Matthews’ question—and Matthews failed to notice:

MATTHEWS (6/1/11): Well, this is getting hot. Congressman Marsha Blackburn is a Republican from Tennessee. Congresswoman, thank you for joining us. We got a lot to talk about.

BLACKBURN: Good to be with you.

MATTHEWS: Three big questions. One is the debt ceiling.

I know you are watching what’s happening in Greece right now. That country is headed towards free fall. We’re all watching it as a standard.

What happens if we don’t get a dealt ceiling bill passed between now and August? What’s the big danger? Are you worried we don’t get it done? And if we don’t get it done, are you worried we`re going to have a real catastrophe like we had in 2007 and 2008?

BLACKBURN: Chris, I’m one of the members that has been worried about the out-of-control spending and the debt my entire time that I’ve been in Congress. Every year, I have brought forward amendments that would actually cut what we are spending.

Do we need to address this? Absolutely we do. I think that those generations that have caused this debt should be the ones to address it.

Certainly, in the last five years, we have seen our public debt, the debt that is held by the public, double. And it is increasing at 15 percent a year. It is time to get that under control.

In this way, Blackburn changed the subject from the debt ceiling deadline to the question of deficit spending. Matthews didn’t seem to notice—but then, the debt ceiling was only one of three questions he hoped to raise in this half segment.

You can read the whole worthless exchange for yourself. But as best we can tell, that partial segment represents the only time Matthews has ever attempted to discuss this issue. That’s why our analysts fell on the floor when Matthews suggested he was angry with Weiner for robbing him of the chance to discuss this important issue.

And here we find ourselves staring at the culture that has no name. Can we talk? Influential buffoons like Matthews don’t discuss topics like the debt limit. Liberals have accepted this culture for the past twenty years.

This destructive culture still lacks a name. Tomorrow, we will ask why.

Tomorrow—part 4: You can’t insult our intelligence!

A truly horrible person: Chris Matthews is a truly horrible person. On Monday, talking with a string of trained apes, he tried very hard, during several segments, to drag Weiner’s wife into the stew—to make it seem like his behavior was somehow her doing too.

In his excitement, Matthews kept misrepresenting what Weiner had said about his widely-praised wife, Huma Abedin, in his press conference. In these passages, you see the instincts—you see the soul—of a very disordered man:

MATTHEWS (6/6/11): Well, he gave us six women. Now, every one of those six women will be trailed tonight in this news cycle, and they`ll feel free. He’s also said his wife—Huma is her name?



MATTHEWS: —Huma, who works at the White House, a very trusted intimate aide of Hillary Clinton, a very major figure in American government right now, the State Department—that she knew about this stuff going on when he married her. So he’s dragged her into this story—

STEELE: Right. Right.

MATTHEWS: —that she’s now a knowledgeable party to this stuff. I’m sure she’s happy about that.


FINEMAN: As it’s said, you know, the lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client. A politician who does his own advising on how to handle an issue like this is a fool. And as you said, he opened all these new lines of inquiry.

He hung his wife out to dry here by saying she was, you know, knowledgeable about this beforehand. Questions are going to be asked of her. She’s a private person. She’s a very elegant person. I know her. The last thing in the world she ever wants to do is have to deal with this kind of thing.


MATTHEWS: He says now he told his wife he was doing this kind of phone whatever-it-was. He won’t deny phone sex, but some kind of textual sexual whatever he’s doing, sending these pictures around of himself, all over his body, and cats and all this suggestive stuff. Now he’s admitted he’s done all that, right, won’t deny phone sex. And then he says he’s told his wife about it, as I said. And then he says, “I’m not quitting.” It doesn’t add up!


FEEHERY: Well, you know Eric Cantor was right last week when he said he felt for the wife, and I think we all feel for his wife right now—

MATTHEWS: Yeah, but he says his wife knew! He laid it out on her!

FEEHERY: Well, I— Which is terrible, a terrible mistake.

MATTHEWS: Well maybe she’s partly responsible if she knew about it.

MCMAHON: She’s not. She’s not responsible.

FEEHERY: She’s not responsible. I mean, come on, that’s ridiculous.


MATTHEWS: Why did he say— Let’s not, let’s not blame her at all, but let’s ask the question, Why did he say he told her about this, that he was doing this?

FEEHERY: I have no idea.

MCMAHON: I’ll tell you why. I’ll tell you why. Because he actually thinks—he is a guy who is very good with the media, usually, not the last 10 days. And he is somebody who has been able to explain his way through, around or out of almost any problem or challenge that he’s ever had politically.

MATTHEWS: So he says, “My wife and I sat around and talked about the fact that I would send embarrassing pictures of myself out, and I’m doing that right until our wedding day, and then I’m going to stop.”


MATTHEWS: What kind of conversation is that?

MCMAHON: Weird. It`s weird.

FEEHERY: Well, it’s a painful one. It’s a very a painful one.

MCMAHON: It’s a weird one.

FEEHERY: This is a painful conversation that spouses have sometimes. This is actually a very personal tragedy. And you have got to feel for the wife.

Among this program’s pundits, it was the Republican Feehery who distinguished himself by opposing the shaming and blaming of Abedin. But Matthews has always had a jones against liberal women, dating back to his attack on Elizabeth Holztman in early 1999. You saw this very unpleasant jones rise again Monday night.

We’ll take a guess. Presumably, someone got in Matthews’ ear and told him the wife-baiting had to stop. By the end of the program, he was walking back what he had repeatedly said. This came very late in the show:

MATTHEWS: You know, in the press conference, Anthony Weiner said that he told his wife about his misbehavior with regard to this texting and sexting and all that other stuff, putting a bit of the blame on her. I don’t think that’s fair. I hope I didn’t give the impression that I agree with that. I certainly don’t.

This is his problem. People love people. They married them despite their faults, not—including themselves with their fault.

We’ll be right back with this more of this amazing show. We’ll be right back.

To Matthews, this was an “amazing show.” Matthews was right in his element.

Please note: Even here, Matthews pretended that Weiner himself had “put a bit of the blame on” his wife. That is absurdly inaccurate.

Matthews is a very bad person. But you can be quite sure of one thing. The career liberal world will never mention the way he went after Abedin. Career liberals have whored after Hardball spots since the day Matthews went on the air. Again and again, they have looked away as this horrible man stains the air.