The Serious And Thoughtful Chris Matthews

Here’s something fun from the clown-show that is MSNBC. This is Chris Matthews opining on Sarah Palin having weighed in on the Obama administration’s handling of Egypt, and specifically Palin’s statements questioning whether the administration has been telling the public the truth about what they know of events there.

A quick transcript, courtesy of Newsbusters:

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: I want to go back to Beck for a minute, and Palin, because they’re on the same label here. They are on the same, they ought to patent together, she’s trying to get herself patented. It ought to be Palin and Beck. This stuff about these conspiracy theories, she’s got the fact that the President of the United States is sitting on these realities. I tell you, I wish I had as much confidence in the State Department as she does, they’ve got it all figured out who’s going to win over there. What’s with the conspiracy theory all the time? Can’t she just admit this is tough and they don’t seem to know where they’re going? That’s not a bad critique, and it’s a smart one. I don’t think they know where they’re going, and I think they do change their minds every two or three days over there. They don’t know whether Mubarak is going to last three months, six months, or two weeks, we don’t know. And basically, we’re trying to look at glass, through a glass darkly here. Your thoughts, Shushannah, why is it always the easiest thing to do is to sell a conspiracy theory these days on the Right?

SHUSHANNAH WALSHE, DAILY BEAST: Well, I agree that there are other potential 2012ers which I think that she is have said the president is all over the map. He should be, you know, take a stance, and she did say that, but I think because a lot of people, people that are supporters, the media were looking at what her first comments on Egypt could be, that she should have, as I said before, I think that she should have come out not with a conspiracy, not with what she thinks the president is doing or thinking behind the scenes, but what she would have done if she was in the Oval Office. And I think a lot of her supporters would appreciate that. I think the people that, journalists that cover her and watch her would be interested in that. And I, you know, I think that would have really made her different and distinct from the president especially if she would have come out with a very strong response.

MATTHEWS: Okay, do you know what I think she’s doing? Hey Ron…

RON CHRISTIE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yeah.

MATTHEWS: …think about this, because I respect you. Do you know what I think she’s doing? I don’t think she is a thoughtful politician. I think she’s talking to people who don’t read newspapers, don’t pay attention to serious television broadcasts, whether the Lehrer Hour or anything like it or even this program, don’t pay attention to anything that’s even in the middle, who don’t have any effort at all to learn anything, believe her when she says they’re keeping the truth from us when the people who believe her are making absolutely no effort to find out what the truth is. So they’re willing to believe it’s somebody else’s fault. She’s in an interesting little game she plays with people.

Chris Matthews has 600,000 viewers. There are 310,000,000 Americans. It’s probably worth saying that if Palin is talking to people who don’t watch his show it shows a pretty good bit of political judgement for her to do so – assuming, of course, that she may have ambitions to get better than 50 percent of the American electorate to support her.

Regardless of whether you’re in the tank for Palin, it’s noteworthy that Matthews’ real problem is not with Palin here. His problem is with the people he thinks she’s talking to – namely, that overwhelming segment of the market which has rejected him as a worthy commentator on public affairs.

And while that’s arrogant, ugly and small, it’s neither surprising nor unreasonable. Matthews has lived in a left-wing echo chamber all his life – he’s been in D.C. since 1970, only stepping away from the capitol to run unsuccessfully for a Pennsylvania congressional seat in 1974. He’s actually managed to get some on the Left to call him MSNBC’s most conservative host, which says volumes. It also likely gives Matthews the conceit that his presentation is balanced and centrist, so people who see him as a far left loon (which is, if you go by his ratings, a very large proportion of the public) come off as crazy in his world.

He actually once said “My audience is much more center right, or centrist.” That might explain his putrid ratings.

What’s really amusing is Matthews’ conceit that what he does is serious analysis. Remember this?

I have to tell you, you know, it’s part of reporting this case, this election, the feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama’s speech. My, I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don’t have that too often.

Or this?

I’ll be brutal, the reason she’s a U.S. senator, the reason she’s a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around. That’s how she got to be senator from New York. We keep forgetting it. She didn’t win there on her merit.

Or this?

You know, I forgot he was black tonight for an hour.

Or how about this?

Reagan was all about America, and you talked about it. Obama is, ‘We are above that now. We’re not just parochial, we’re not just chauvinistic, we’re not just provincial. We stand for something.’ I mean, in a way, Obama’s standing above the country, above – above the world. He’s sort of God. He’s going to bring all different sides together.

Or maybe this?

And here’s the thing: I traveled in the Third World with the Peace Corps. I’ve never felt anything but hospitality around the world. I don’t think they hate me. I don’t feel the hatred a lot of these right-wingers assume. I just don’t have the problem a lot of these people have.

Does this sound like a serious analyst to you, or an assclown? Is there a discernible chasm in quality between Matthews’ political commentary and the content of Palin’s speeches?

The whole thing is laughable.

What’s bringing this on? Well, Matthews’ contract with MSNBC is up for renewal next year. Comcast is now in control; the rent-seekers and Obama sycophants at GE no longer own that outfit. And Comcast has already run Keith Obermann off; Olbermann is now going to work at Al Gore’s fly-by-night TV operation.

In other words, Matthews knows he’s a lame duck. And once he’s gone from a regular gig on the airwaves, Palin will still be in the spotlight. For somebody who thinks himself a big shot and an influential opinion-maker, it’s a very bitter pill that a woman with whom he totally disagrees, who neither has his east coast elite pedigree nor desires it and who was a nobody three years ago is relevant and he is not. So he’s lashing out.

All this probably gets lost amid the standard griping about the Left’s Sarah Palin derangement. But in this case it’s about Chris Matthews and his disappointment over the fact that he’s had his measure taken by the marketplace – and not to his advantage.

Can’t be his fault. has to be yours.

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