After reading Evgenia Peretz’s wonderful piece in this month’s Vanity Fair about the savaging of Al Gore by the lazy-ass, insincere, cynical press in the 2000 presidential race, I was reminded once again what a piece of shit Chris Matthews is. Not that he’s alone in abandoning his journalistic duties in order to engage in crass, self-serving behavior, but he is particularly good at it.
Some examples from the article:
On two consecutive nights of Hardball, Chris Matthews brought up this same trio as examples of Gore's "delusionary" thinking. "What is it, the Zelig guy who keeps saying, 'I was the main character in Love Story. I invented the Internet. I invented Love Canal.…' It reminds me of Snoopy thinking he's the Red Baron." "It became part of the vocabulary," Matthews says today. "I don't think it had a thunderous impact on the voters." He concedes, however, that such stories were repeated too many times in the media.
But to a journalist like Matthews, it hardly mattered. Saying so was good TV.
Secondly, calling Al Gore a liar on television didn’t have a thunderous impact on the voters??
Chris, you are too modest. And that’s unlike you.
But more than that, it wasn’t as if the journalists themselves picked up on what Gore said and decided to exploit it or misquote him themselves. They took their cues from the opposing party. No journalist cared about what Al Gore said about the internet until Republicans starting making fun of him, and then all of a sudden it was a “news story.” It was, as Rove would no doubt put it, “fair game.”
Just like that debate in 2000. Remember? The one that all the talking heads gave to Gore. And then, the next day, they all changed their minds. Gore was too peevish. He had sighed too much. He rolled his eyes when Bush spoke. Who did he think he was?
What happened overnight to bring about the change? Republicans had spliced together a tape of Gore sighing and sent it around to journalists.
And a campaign narrative was born. Born not in the minds of the press, but in the camp of the opposing party. The press was only the carrier.
More Matthews via Peretz:
One obstacle course the press set up was which candidate would lure voters to have a beer with them at the local bar. "Journalists made it seem like that was a legitimate way of choosing a president," says Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter. "They also wrongly presumed, based on nothing, that somehow Bush was more likable." Chris Matthews contends that "the likability issue was something decided by the viewers of the debates, not by the commentators," but adds, "The last six years have been a powerful bit of evidence that we have to judge candidates for president on their preparation for the office with the same relish that we assess their personalities."
Oh, really, Chris? Then I expect you to not only stop slavering over the manliness of George W., but to resist the temptation to speculate on whether Hillary is faking her laughter.
Especially given the incredibly fake laughter escaping from your mouth as Jon Stewart roasts you over a hot coal or two.
Suddenly, I feel so much better.