Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Tongue-bath for Chris Matthews

The New York Times Magazine:
There is a level of ubiquity about Chris Matthews today that can be exhausting, occasionally edifying and, for better or worse, central to what has become a very loud national conversation about politics. His soothing-like-a-blender voice feels unnervingly constant in a presidential campaign that has drawn big interest, ratings and voter turnout. . . .
Matthews is the host of a show on the third-rated cable network, yet "ubiquity" is attributed to him. Why is that? Because MSNBC is also the most liberal cable network, and "Hardball" is on the air immediately before "Countdown," hosted by progressive darling Keith Olbermann. In other words, Matthews is ubiquitous on the network New York Times Magazine reporters watch.

The reader must penetrate to the 15th paragraph before learning some key facts about Matthews:
He wrote speeches for Jimmy Carter, worked as a top advisor to Tip O’Neill, ran unsuccessfully for Congress himself in his native Philadelphia at 28.
Carter is a Democrat, O'Neill was a Democrat, and Matthews ran for office as a Democrat. In other words, he's a card-carrying partisan. Just like his fellow Democratic operatives, Tim Russert (a former staffer for Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan) and George Stephanopoulos (former staffer for Democratic President Bill Clinton).

Nowhere in this article -- which makes much of an alleged Matthews-Russert rivalry -- is there any notice of how strange it is that all these professional Democratic political operatives have been recruited to host TV news shows.

MSNBC has a show hosted by former Republican Rep. Joe Scarborough and Fox News has a show hosted by former Republican Rep. John Kasich, but both of those are fairly recent creations. By contrast, Russert was handpicked to take over "Meet the Press," the longest-running of the network morning shows, and Stephanopoulos was likewise handpicked to replace veteran newsman David Brinkley as host of ABC's "This Week."

It would be impossible to imagine a New York Times story about Karl Rove that did not identify him early and clearly as a conservative Republican. But notice that the 15th-paragraph reference to Matthews' background in politics (not journalism) doesn't even note the partisan affliation of Carter or O'Neill. It's much further down in the story (I lost count of the paragraphs) before we are informed that Matthews lost the Democratic primary in that 1974 congressional race.

UPDATE: The first commenter considers the NYT article "insulting" to Matthews.

1 comment:

  1. I am 4 pages into this piece, and it's one of the longest, most insulting diatribes about someone I have ever read.

    This article is insulting to my sensibilities, and I would say insulting to common decency.

    9 pages of a man ranting about how he thinks Chris Matthews is a big, fake jerk who deserves to be crapped all over.

    It contains hearsay, a mocking tone, and pretty much constitutes an outright attack on Matthews as a human being, not just a pundit. It's embarrassing that this is even going to print.