Thursday, April 14, 2005

Conservatives Insist Matthews is a "Liberal." So Why Does He Repeat GOP Myths? (Part III)

Chris Matthews, on the April 13 edition of Hardball, said exactly the right thing:

MATTHEWS: Let me tell you my job. It‘s not only to elicit opinion from people that don‘t want to give it. It‘s to fact-check every night, because we don‘t have a corrections page here at Hardball. Every time someone says something on this show that I believe to be factually incorrect, in a matter of seconds, sometimes, within a minute or two, I have got to find the information through my ear or whatever and correct it. ... Because, otherwise, people assume, since I sat here and let somebody say something, it must be true.

If only it were true.

***

On the April 8 edition of Hardball, Matthews' fact-checkers must have had the night off.

Matthews, speaking with Catholic Archbishop John F. Foley, repeated the conservative myth that former Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey was prevented from speaking at the 1992 Democratic National Convention because he opposes abortion rights.

According to mediamatters.org, Matthews has repeated this story on at least five occasions. I guess the fact-checkers didn't get the information into Matthews' ear on those nights, either.

Casey was denied a speech at the convention because he refused to endorse the Clinton-Gore ticket. At least eight speakers who opposed abortion rights spoke at that convention, including Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, Sens. John Breaux (D-LA) and Howell Heflin (D-AL). The same has held true at subsequent conventions, in 1996, 2000 and 2004.

But Matthews, the great fact-checker that he is, allowed the conservative spin of the 1992 Casey non-speech to prevail.

MATTHEWS: Right, but Catholics, in state after state with the exception of Pennsylvania, elect pro-choice senators. Those states which are most heavily Catholic have the most predictably pro-choice senators. And that's not to say Catholics believe in abortion -- they don't. They don't like it. But if you look at the numbers, they tend to vote for senators, whether it's Hillary Clinton (D-NY) or it's Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who are pro-choice.

FOLEY: Maybe that's one reason why I'm so proud to be from Pennsylvania. And this time the Democrats are nominating a pro-life candidate. Which is ...

MATTHEWS: Right, but that's the exception in the country.

FOLEY: ... a type of mini-conversion on the part of the Democratic Party. The same Democratic Party that wouldn't permit Governor Casey, the father of the person who is being nominated now for senator, to speak at the convention in New York. I thought that was a disgrace.

MATTHEWS: Certainly I do, too. I've said it many times.

***

Matthews didn't "let somebody say something," without correcting it. He agreed with it, and admitted he's "said it many times."

Conservatives insist that Matthews is a liberal. But would a liberal propagate conservative myths? I doubt it. But according to Matthews own words, if he allows something to be said without speaking up, he must believe it to be factually correct.

In other words, Matthews is willing to allow conservative spin to replace the facts.

And this is not an isolated case. Matthews chastised Al Gore for "inventing the Internet" -- a phrase he never said, which Matthews could have found out by doing some basic research before opening his mouth (the original interview is available on CNN's web site.) A simple Lexis-Nexis search would have allowed Matthews to avoid repeating the conservative myth that Gore exaggerated when he admitted that he was the role model for the main character in Erich Segal's famed book, "Love Story" (the original interview with the Nashville Tennessean is accessible). And more recently, Matthews could have "fact-checked" Dick Cheney's statement, during the vice presidential debate last year, that he'd never before met John Edwards. A day after the debate, when video had been produced proving that the Cheney line was pure drivel, Matthews still was calling the vice president's debate performance "powerful."

Try to find examples of Matthews repeating liberal "myths" about the GOP. It'll take a long time to find even one. When it comes to shooting down liberal myths, Matthews knows how to play hardball.

Conservatives don't want to admit this -- Matthews once worked for Tip O'Neill, they'll remind you as they scream "liberal media bias." But the facts speak otherwise.

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