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WHEN DIGBY MET MATTHEWS! Does Matthews have a problem with women? Do his insults toward HRC count? // link // print // previous // next //

HOW SPECIAL INTERESTS HOLD POWER: On Sunday, the New York Times wrote a long editorial which told one part of a two-part story (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/13/07). U.S. health care isn’t nearly as good as its European counterpart, the editors said. But uh-oh! The editors forgot to tell Part 2 of this story. Omigod! Because of their single-payer systems, European nations are producing superior health outcomes—while spending massively less per-person than we do in the U.S.

They get better results—at half the cost! Somehow, the editors failed to mention that second fact—the fact which makes this story so stunning. And then, the letters came pouring in. And none of the people who wrote to the Times mentioned this striking fact either!

At least, that’s the judgment one must reach from the eight letters the Times has now published. To see the letters on-line, just click here. Seven of these letters appear in this morning’s hard-copy edition.

Eight different letters! And none of them mention that remarkable fact: France and Italy are achieving superior health care while spending roughly half as much as we spend in the U.S.

Did no one write to tell the Times? Or do the editors feel that we rubes mustn’t know this troubling fact? We don’t have the slightest idea. But if you want to know how we voters get dumber, that editorial—and this group of letters—pretty much show how it works.

We hate to do it, but we’ll quote him again. In this recent, very brief passage, Krugman somehow managed to tell both parts of this two-part story. He discussed these matters in much more detail back in 2005:
KRUGMAN (7/9/07): Now, every wealthy country except the United States already has some form of universal care. Citizens of these countries pay extra taxes as a result—but they make up for that through savings on insurance premiums and out-of-pocket medical costs. The overall cost of health care in countries with universal coverage is much lower than it is here.

Meanwhile, every available indicator says that in terms of quality, access to needed care and health outcomes, the U.S. health care system does worse, not better, than other advanced countries—even Britain, which spends only about 40 percent as much per person as we do.
Truly, an amazing story—better health care at half the price! (France and Italy spend somewhat more than Great Britain—but they still spend far less than we do.) Somehow, Krugman managed to tell both parts of this two-part story. But the editors deep-sixed Part 2, and when they published eight different letters, exactly none of the letters they picked mentioned that part of this tale.

Readers of the New York Times believe they’re reading a great newspaper. As matter of fact, they are doing that—on the days when they read Krugman’s column.

ROBINSON KNOWS HE STILL CAN’T: The gods on Olympus must have laughed when they read the Post’s op-ed page today—particularly, when they read the columns about Karl Rove’s career. On the one hand, here’s Grover Norquist, telling the truth about press coverage of Campaign 2000's primaries:
NORQUIST (8/14/07): Rove's second big accomplishment was the 2000 Republican primary. Arizona Sen. John McCain ran as a former prisoner of war with tons of charisma and several million dollars in network campaign contributions in the form of cheerleading thinly veiled as media coverage.
Certainly true—although the press corps’ ludicrous pandering toward McCain didn’t lead them to trash George Bush. At any rate, this passage proves that it’s possible to make accurate statements about the coverage of Campaign 2000. But in his own column, Gene Robinson mentions the general election. Therefore, he has to play dumb:
ROBINSON (8/14/07): [L]et's give the man his due. Karl Rove managed to get George Walker Bush elected president of the United States, not once but twice. Okay, you're right, the first time he needed big assists from Katherine Harris (speaking of lipstick) and the U.S. Supreme Court, but still. Honesty requires the acknowledgment that Rove was very good at what he did.
Huh! Suddenly, the press corps’ conduct was Missing In Action. In Campaign 2000, Rove was helped by Harris and Rehnquist and apparently by no one else. In this passage, we’re back to familiar ground, in which the press corps’ conduct in this campaign is wiped from the face of the earth.

And make no mistake. Rove was helped by someone else in Campaign 2000—he was helped by Gene Robinson! In January 1999, Robinson was named the new editor of “Style,” the section of the Washington Post where writers go to prove how foolish they’re willing to be. That June, Gore was preparing his campaign’s formal launch—and Robinson was dumping a three-part bucket of bullsh*t straight down on his head. Has any major presidential candidate ever been ridiculed in this manner? We doubt it. And it was Robinson—this same Gene Robinson—who waved this pure porn into print.

First Kevin Merida. Then Lloyd Grove. And then, at last, the queen, Ceci Connolly! Within seventeen days, Robinson published three long profiles of Gore—all of which proved how transcendently boring the “vanilla pudding of the species” was. The profiles were openly mocking—and three of the poisonous profiles appeared. But you don’t read that in the Post today! Norquist knows he can tell the truth. Robinson knows to keep quiet.

We discussed these three profiles long ago—three weeks before 9/11, in fact. (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/23/01. If you use our whirring search engines, you can find them discussed in more detail elsewhere.) But all three of these poisonous profiles were waved into print by one man—Gene Robinson. This morning, Norquist happily tells us the truth. Robinson knows he still can’t.

WHEN DIGBY MET MATTHEWS: Last Friday, Hardball’s Chris Matthews got weirdly randy—and professionally inappropriate— with Erin Burnett, CNBC’s new “it person.” For the Media Matters account, with transcript and tape, you know what to do—just click here.

Yesterday, Digby was angry—and somewhat strangely, she seemed surprised. “I doubt this is the only time he's acted like this,” she wrote. “The man has obviously got a problem with women.”

Indeed, this very same sort of thing occurred on a Friday afternoon in late March. Like Gurov, Chekhov’s aging roué, Matthews “wanted to enjoy life so badly and it all seemed so simple and amusing.” And so, after CNBC’s Margaret Brennan delivered a financial update, Matthews blurted out praise for her youthful beauty, as he would later do with Burnett:
MATTHEWS (3/23/07): OK, it’s Friday afternoon, OK? But I have watched that economic bulletin there. But let me just tell you—the next time the producer has to choose between a picture of more of Margaret Brennan and that oil derrick, that offshore oil derrick, stay on Margaret Brennan, OK?


MATTHEWS: She’s a beautiful woman. She’s a very bright reporter. She makes us feel good. I am sick of looking at that offshore oil drill. It drives me crazy. Bring back Margaret! Thank you, dear! Thank you! Back by popular demand! Happy Friday! And she’s 6 feet tall, besides. You’re gorgeous, and I hate that oil drill. I hate the oil drill. Do you want to comment on that?

BRENNAN: More of the oil boards? Hey, well, you know, sure. More air time—I’m not going to complain about. But I’d love to be more on your show there, Chris.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, dear. You are on right now. Thanks for the—held over by popular demand, dear. Thank you. Happy Friday. Anyway, Mike Barnicle, that was a—that was—I’d rather see her than you guys, anyway. Thank you. Mike Barnicle’s coming on right now, and Ron Christie.
But then, these displays are pretty much par for the course with the deeply weird man who helps steward our discourse—with Jack Welch’s most troubled “Lost Boy.” As Karen Russell noted at Sunday’s Huffington Post, Matthews slobbered all over the Obama, Rudy, and Hot-for-Hillary Girls for two full segments of another recent Hardball. (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/25/07. For embarrassing chatter from that cringe-making program, see the transcript in Russell’s post.) “Be careful with the advances you are making with your eyes right now,” Chris told young Amber Lee Ettinger that day. “I'm not a casting agent.”

Oh yeah? Anyone want to bet?

For these and many other reasons, we don’t know why Digby seemed surprised by Matthews’ conduct last Friday. Matthews has had obvious on-air problems with women dating back to the late 1990s, when he would savage liberal women who challenged his rants against Clinton and Gore. (Remember him? The last nominee we refused to defend?) During this same epoch, of course, Matthews would fall all over himself with praise for his darling, the Faire Lady Willey, who would periodically arouse his admiration with her bizarre accusations on Hardball against the pet-killer, Bill Clinton.

(In August 1999, Matthews gave Gennifer Flowers a full half-hour to accuse both Clintons of serial murders. “You're a very beautiful woman,” the long-term nut-case said at one point. “And I have to tell you—he knows that, you know that, and everybody watching knows that. Hillary Clinton knows that!” “Gosh, you’re making me blush here,” the chanteuse replied, briefly putting murder charges on hold. Matthews came right back at his guest: “It's an objective statement, Gennifer. I'm not flirting. So let's go on.”)

So yes, Matthews has long been a public crackpot when it comes to his conduct toward women. This has been discussed, sometimes widely, for the past ten years. But by far, Matthews’ most consequential expression of this problem in the past year was the stream of gender-based insults he directed at a major presidential candidate—at a certain "strip-teaser," "giggling girl" "uppity woman"—earlier in 2007. (In recent months, he has dialed this back a bit. He may have done this because some of us complained, while most of us notably didn’t.) And now we get to our accusation: The liberal web was amazingly tolerant of that disgraceful conduct by Matthews—when it was being directed at Hillary Clinton. Maybe we'll wait seven more years to complain, the way we did with Candidate Gore. Maybe we’ll wait until we get peeved about Giuliani’s mad war.

We’re amazed—and almost disgusted—by some reactions around the web to the latest nonsense by Matthews. We’re going to stop right here today, knowing how delicate feelings can be—and how bad our judgment has been, having defended Gore and all. But Matthews’ problems with women have long been quite obvious—and his problems have been acted out quite clearly in his treatment of Campaign 08. We don’t know why liberals looked away—or why we should be surprised now.

P.S. We just read Digby’s comments on the day of the war resolution. Digby was right on the money.

LET’S BE CLEAR: Regarding Matthews’ gender-based insults of Clinton, Media Matters complained, again and again. To the best of our recollection, amazingly few other “libs” did.

By the way: It was our disgust with Matthews’ gender-based trashing of Clinton which finally led us to discuss this two-year-old, private incident. Yesterday, Digby linked to that post in an update. In our view, it would be much more productive to discuss this gentleman’s public conduct—the conduct which might once again change the course of world history. (As he changed history during Campaign 2000 with two solid years of disgraceful Gore-trashing.) Of course, if we simply hope that Obama or Edwards will win (either option is OK with us), we could always express that thought too. But good grief! Could we stop pretending that Matthews’ conduct toward Burnett is more significant than his conduct toward Clinton?

For ourselves, we’re with Kos. We don’t yet know who we’ll vote for. We do want the Dem nominee in the White House. Do you? (It isn’t required.)