Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Conservatives Insist Matthews is a "Liberal." So Why Does He Buy Into GOP Spin? (Part I)

Conservatives insist that Chris Matthews is a liberal. After all, he used to work for Tip O'Neill.

But as has been shown on JABBS and elsewhere, Matthews often skews his MSNBC Hardball and NBC Chris Matthews Show panels to the right ( and And on many issues, he lazily repeats GOP spin ( and, although some media critics have suggested that Matthews' inability to discern GOP spin is because he is ill-prepared when he conducts interviews.

As I've said before, at best, Matthews is a "Fox Democrat," but more likely, he's a guy who once was a Reagan Democrat, and has gradually drifted right. Matthews has praised Trent Lott and John McCain to their faces and lazily repeated spin on Al Gore. He's shown his distaste for a number of Demcorats, most notably John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, while offering kind words for President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

Even if a viewer were to believe that in his heart of hearts, Matthews still sees himself as a Democrat, it's pretty clear that he aligns himself with many of the Republican personalities. Some have suggested this is because Matthews is positioning himself to move to Fox News, while others have suggested he is trying to increase his ratings among conservative viewers.

But whatever the excuse, the proof is in his broadcasts. Matthews doesn't spin for the left. He does spin for the right.

For a recent example, consider the April 10 edition of the Chris Matthews Show, in which Matthews heaped praise on to Bush, and in the process offered some ripe GOP spin.

Covering Bush's trip to Rome for the Pope's funeral, Matthews said*:

MATTHEWS: Let me talk about coming over here. What I was struck by was the way in which everyone knows that the president — and I — by the way, he was wonderful in coming over here. I think — and we all agree, we've been over here this week — his presence was wonderful coming over, and the first lady was great and, and bringing the two former presidents. He did it just the right way. But it seemed to me odd that the part — one party seemed to almost monopolize the event. It seemed like a Republican visit. Didn't it, Chris [Jansing]?

Later, Matthews offered this:

MATTHEWS: I go back to my point: I think the Republicans made a pronounced appearance here, a wonderful visit by the president.

But, why did it seem like a "Republican visit"? Because Bush had only invited one Democrat, former president Bill Clinton. Another former president, Democrat Jimmy Carter, had made it known that he wanted to attend as well, but Bush chose to bring Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice instead. In fact, stories about Carter's wishes being denied made the news.

So the official delegation consisted of four Republicans and one Democrat. And there's nothing wrong with that. Bush had the right to fill his five-man delegation any way he wanted.

Matthews knows all that, yet he conveniently forgets the facts in order to praise Bush for creating what "seemed like a Republican visit." And his panel -- NBC's Chris Jansing and David Gregory and the BBC's Gavin Hewitt -- didn't contradict anything Matthews said.

If Chris Matthews a liberal? The proof is in his broadcasts. Matthews doesn't spin for the left. He does spin for the right.

* With thanks to for the transcript


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