Sunday, October 10, 2004

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?

Apparently not.

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 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?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, I now cannot wait until this election is over. I just had a scary encounter with two long time friends of mine.

Now, I knew they used to be center towards left. Now they are so far left it needs a new definition. They are angry people, so bent on hatred that it actually scared me. I used to believe that politics could never interfere with friendships but when i said i still am not sure which way to go and that i was leaning democrat---they looked as if they wanted to behead me. How could I ever consider voting for this America hating, anti-constitutional, twisted and corrupt Bush? They attempted to convince me that Fahrenheit 911 should be aired pre-election, as is now being considered, because it is the best way to get the "TRUTH" out. This is the attitude I encountered when i saw the movie and watched as people cheered out loud as I was falling asleep during the boring middle portion of the farcical movie. I could go on and on.....I cannot believe the change in this couple. Intelligent people out of their minds. I asked "Do you like Kerry? Believe in him? Think his tax policies are good? His Iraq policy?" The answer basically was it does not matter. Why? Because the opponent is Bush--and they believe, and I quote " this man has systematically positioned every policy to benefit his own rich friends both here and abroad, and lied to cover it up. He is basically looking for dictatorship and does not believe in America as we know it. He doesnt care who dies, who lives and noone in his administration does (of course they used to love C RIce). All about oil and finance. I would vote for a monkey instead of him." Fair enough I said but for me, I need to understand the challenger before giving him the presidency. They said I was crazy and brainwashed by such cults as Fox News and CNN. Well, that was it for me. I ended the conversation with this: "Ok, guys, this was nice and I truly used to think the nuts in this country were the religious right. I need to go back and think because you have pushed me to consider Bush more strongly since i dont believe people with your views should have much of a voice in this country and if Kerry is your guy, it scares me. And if CNN and Fox News is brainwashing me, what the hell are you watching Al Jazeera?"

Scary! Please let this election end.

4:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So now the definition of liberals and conservatives has now become those that agree or disagree with this blogger's political views. Chris Matthews is no longer a liberal because he allows conservative voices to be heard on his program. Apparently, the author did not notice the ever present liberal Reagan, Andrea Mitchell, or Meacham on the exact same panels. Matthews may not act the way you wish, bashing conservatives, or singing praises from on high for Kerry, but that does not make him any less liberal. I suppose that if the Chief of Staff under Gingrich had a show, you would be willing to admit that did not necessarily make him a conservative? Balance to the left is only good as long as it is people they agree with.

5:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The real problem was that Matthews continues to cite that quote, from an interview months after the war, as proof that the Bushies were saying that Iraq was behind 911 before the war. This in itself is dishonest. Add to that the fact that the quote says nothing of the sort, cannot be twisted to say that, and you have utter dishonesty.

So, when he asks Ginxsberg about "Cheney saying that Iraq was behind 911," it is a little like the police lying to a suspect by saying "your wife has admitted that she killed the guy while you were there."

Ginsberg is obviously a Republican party memeber. i don't think that he has said anything otherwise. he is not on the panel to give his unbiased opinion. Matthews, on the other hand, has tried to keep some objectivity. That he is now a Democratic operative (again) while masquerading as a journalist is dishonest.

btw, Matthews' saying that this quote says that Iraq was behind 911 is the most eggregious lie of the campaign. Score this one for the kerry campaign, of which matthes has shown himself to be a part.


8:19 PM  

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