Chris Mathews, not a liberal pundit*

Media / journalism, Politics, US Politics

Apparently, Chris Matthews got all bold and went on a tear about “the empty-headed president who came into office and the neoconservative intellectuals who filled him up with all sorts of exciting nonsense that got lots of people killed in war,” as Neil Sinhababu puts it at Donkeylicious.

But does this mean that he gets it? No, it just means that he will always try to pinpoint the dominant media narrative, absorb it, and reinforce it.

Here, Neil reminds us, was Chris Matthews back on May 1, 2003, when many of us had already been out on the streets to protest the Iraq war. Let me quote you some of Matthews’ instant wisdoms:

MATTHEWS: What’s the importance of the president’s amazing display of leadership tonight? […]

MATTHEWS: What do you make of the actual visual that people will see on TV [..]? And that’s the president looking very much like a jet, you know, a high-flying jet star. A guy who is a jet pilot. Has been in the past when he was younger, obviously. What does that image mean to the American people, a guy who can actually get into a supersonic plane and actually fly in an unpressurized cabin like an actual jet pilot? […]

MATTHEWS: [T]he president deserves everything he’s doing tonight in terms of his leadership. He won the war. He was an effective commander. Everybody recognizes that, I believe, except a few critics. […]

MATTHEWS: Here’s a president who’s really nonverbal. He’s like Eisenhower. He looks great in a military uniform. He looks great in that cowboy costume he wears when he goes West. I remember him standing at that fence with Colin Powell. Was [that] the best picture in the 2000 campaign? […]

MATTHEWS: Ann Coulter, you’re the first to speak tonight on the buzz. The president’s performance tonight, redolent of the best of Reagan — what do you think?

COULTER: It’s stunning. It’s amazing. I think it’s huge. I mean, he’s landing on a boat at 150 miles per hour. It’s tremendous. It’s hard to imagine any Democrat being able to do that. And it doesn’t matter if Democrats try to ridicule it. It’s stunning, and it speaks for itself. […]

MATTHEWS: The president there — look at this guy! We’re watching him. He looks like he flew the plane. He only flew it as a passenger, but he’s flown —

CADDELL: He looks like a fighter pilot.

MATTHEWS: He looks for real. [..] I mean, he seems like — he didn’t fight in a war, but he looks like he does.

MATTHEWS: Look at this guy!

And in another show:

MATTHEWS: We’re proud of our president. Americans love having a guy as president, a guy who has a little swagger, who’s physical, who’s not a complicated guy like Clinton or even like Dukakis or Mondale, all those guys, McGovern. They want a guy who’s president. Women like a guy who’s president. Check it out. The women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president. It’s simple. We’re not like the Brits [..] or the Danes or the Dutch or the Italians [..]. We want a guy as president.

Liberal media, my behind. Jebus creebus, what a nightmare that was, those years. I can’t believe they lasted as long as they did, and now they’re finally, at long last, really over. But that doesn’t let Matthews off the hook.

It’s not just his mindblowingly shallow stupidity. It’s not just the tiresome celebration of his ever new macho man crushes. Chris Matthews turns with the wind with the self-evidence of someone who is so obliviously vain and unreflective, he wouldn’t even be able to recognize that he’s doing it.

Back in 2003, he engaged and enabled the silliest and most outrageous attacks on Democrats and liberals. Now he’s saying some things we might like, but he’s still the same blowhard.

Do check out Neil’s post for a couple of good points about how to interpret it all too – especially about how it’s not just Matthews, it’s about how the mainstream media, and the punditry in particular, operates.

__________

* Title improvised after seeing this guest post on Ezra Klein’s blog post. The wording is somewhat ambiguous, but it appears Dylan Matthews is calling Chris “a prominent liberal pundit”.

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