On MSNBC's Debate Panels, Do Viewers Really Need Multiple Conservative Spinners?
This blog is among the many that have weighed in on the rightward tilt Chris Matthews and company have taken in their post-debate coverage at MSNBC.
After the Vice Presidential debate, MSNBC vociferously declared Cheney the winner -- highlighting how Cheney had "slammed" Edwards by claiming he had not met the North Carolina Senator prior to that evening. MSNBC's praise came even though Tim Russert apparently knew Cheney and Edwards had met on Meet the Press in 2001. The next morning, on Imus in the Morning, Matthews admitted his panel may have been snookered, by not recognizing various misleading half-truths from the vice president.
Heading into the second presidential debate, would Matthews overcompensate? We've seen how the blustering "Hardball" host -- who conservatives like to point out once worked for Tip O'Neill -- tends to overcompensate to appear friendly to conservatives. After receiving criticism for swinging too far right, would Chris do the same to appease the left?
Friday's debate coverage featured various combinations of conservatives Joe Scarborough, Pat Buchanan and Ben Ginsberg -- often with two men appearing at the same time.
Ben Ginsberg? Who picks MSNBC's panels? On Fox News, you know Brit Hume's "All-Stars" swing far to the right. But on MSNBC, shouldn't viewers expect more?
For those unfamiliar with the name, Ginsberg in August resigned as chief outside counsel to the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign after he acknowledged providing legal advice to the discredited anti-Kerry group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Back in 2000, Ginsberg was a key figure in the Florida recount debacle -- another bone of contention among Democrats.
Could Ginsberg provide reasoned analysis? Even Matthews realized the answer to this question is no. Consider this exchange before Friday's debate:
MATTHEWS: Ben, you help me get the story straight right now. Was Iraq involved with 9-11?
GINSBERG: As far as we know, there were certainly insinuations in the 9-11 Commission report that there were. As for the absolute truth of the matter ...
MATTHEWS: No, there weren't. No, there weren't. No, there were not. I'm sorry, Ben. I have got to correct you here.
As mediamatters.org points out, the 9/11 Commission report agrees with Matthews:
"We have seen no evidence that these or the earlier contacts ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship. Nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States."
In various interviews, including one a few weeks ago with Jon Stewart, Matthews has suggested he was concerned about being blackballed by conservatives, citing Tom DeLay as an example of a conservative who would no longer play "Hardball" with him.
My question is, why is Matthews afraid to blackball a conservative who lies to his face? Ginsberg already has credibility problems. If he says something obviously untrue to Matthews, shouldn't that raise a red flag?
Beyond that, consider the broader queston: do we really need conservative (or liberal) spinners on these panels? Viewers know what conservatives like Ginsberg, Scaborough and Buchanan will say -- Buchanan, for example, said Bush won debate two in a slam dunk; Scarborough made a similar claim on Cheney's behalf after the veep debate. So what's the point?
I heard a rumor last week that Matthews may be taking "Hardball" to Fox News. I had to laugh, because it makes perfect sense. What is Matthews, if not a Fox News Liberal?