Monday, August 27, 2012

Chris Matthews' Smackdown of Reince Priebus Should Be Taught in Journalism School

A week after blogging about how Soledad O'Brien's amazing interview with John Sununu deserves to be taught in journalism school I find myself  advocating yet again for the same thing, this time for MSNBC's Chris Matthews for his super-sweet smackdown of Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. 

The action took place on Monday's edition of "Morning Joe." As the wussified hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough looked on embarrassingly and apologetically, Matthews ripped into Priebus over the GOP's reprehensible attacks on President Obama's citizenship and welfare stance, saying the Republican party was playing "that little ethnic card... the race card." The "Hardball" host was clearly emotional, frustrated and angry.

Matthews heatedly referred to the recent Mitt Romney ad about welfare work requirements and Romney's recent "birth certificate" joke he shamelessly cracked in Michigan last week which was meant to appeal to the party's lowest common denominator. "That cheap shot ... was awful...It is an embarrassment to your party to play that card ... you are playing that ethnic card there," he chided a smirking Priebus. "You can sit there and giggle about it, but the fact is your party is playing that card." 

"It was a moment of levity," Priebus disingenuously replied in defense of Romney. "What was the joke?" Matthews demanded. "What is the joke in the fact that he (Romney) has a birth certificate? I don't get it...It just seems funny that the first joke he ever told in his life was about Obama's birth certificate," he quipped to supportive laughter from the live audience. 

Bravo to Matthews. His cross-examination of an obnoxious, defiant Priebus was unrelenting. Like O'Brien last week, he had the balls to challenge the lies and rebuke the liar. Unfortunately though, he didn't get any support from Brzezinski or Scarborough who, rather than applaud their colleague for doing his job in seeking the truth, seemed horrified at his behavior...more worried that Priebus might never want to bring his lying, smarmy self back on the show again. They scoffed at Matthews' allegations and appeared annoyed and defensive of Priebus. When the segment was over they seemed utterly shocked, as if something strange and unacceptable had just happened.

When did television news people become so horribly afraid to demand honesty and truth from their guests? Instead, they roll over like sheep, allowing these propagandists free, unchallenged airtime to spew their dishonest, divisive rhetoric. When someone finally steps up and holds them accountable it is they who are viewed as being out of line. With the exception of a couple of righteously indignant journos like Matthews and O'Brien, the American news media, given all that's at stake in this most critical election, appears utterly useless right now. 

I'm holding out hope that Aaron Sorkin's fictional anchorman Will McAvoy on HBO's "The Newsroom" will soon have some serious influence on his real-life colleagues...if he hasn't already.


Richard H. Schwartz said...

Kudos to Chris Matthews! It is essential that the Republican lies and misrepresentations be exposed. In addition, the media should challenge Republican politicians to respond to points like the following:

1. Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and other Republicans are promoting policies similar to or often worse than those that had such disastrous results during the Bush administration, including converting a three-year major surplus, which was on track to completely eliminate the total federal debt, into a major deficit, creating very few net jobs (none in the private sector), and leaving the country on the brink of a depression, with an average of 750,000 jobs being lost during its last three months.

2. Republicans have obstructed efforts to get our country out of the tremendous ditch they left us in by voting no on and sometimes filibustering many Democratic proposals, some of which they previously supported and sometimes even co-sponsored. Hence, it is not surprising that a recent poll showed that 49% of Americans believe that Republican Congress members are purposely sabotaging the U.S. economy in order to defeat Obama and other Democrats, while only 40% disagree.

3.. Republicans support continued tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and highly profitable corporations, while basic social services that middle class and poor people depend on are being cut and teachers, police officers, fire fighters, and others are losing their jobs.

4. Republican legislators have voted against providing funds to save jobs of teachers, police officers, and fire fighters, providing unemployment benefits to long-time unemployed people, and providing medical benefits to 9/11 responders.

5. Republicans are generally in denial about the tremendous dangers from climate change, in spite of a very strong consensus in peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals and statements by scientific academies all over the world that climate change is a major threat, largely caused by human activities, and the many wake-up calls we have been receiving in terms of severe storms, tornados, floods, heat waves, droughts, and wildfires,. Anyone who thinks that climate change is a hoax promoted by liberals should visit the website of the “Republicans for Environmental Protection.” ( . This conservative group was only able to endorse four percent of Republicans in the 2010 U.S. midterm elections because so many Republicans are in denial about climate change and other environmental threats. Paul Ryan is a climate denier and has a miserable record on the environment. Please check out

6. The Republican Party has moved far to the right under the influence of the Tea Party. There are very few moderate Republicans in Congress today.

7. While far more needs to be done, Democrats have enacted policies that have turned the economy away from the possible depression that the Bush administration left the U.S. on the brink of. More net private-sector jobs have been created already during the Obama administration than during the entire eight years of the Bush presidency.

While Democratic policies have not always lived up to our hopes, largely due to Republican obstructionism, a return to Republican rule would be a nightmare. Hence, it is essential to vote Democratic in 2012.

SkyeApril said...

I agree. Having watched every episode of HBO's The Newsroom. I marvel at how they pack in lessons for real-life journalists and wish that it was required viewing for all. The issues are real and compelling, so much so that it allows me to ignore Aaron Sorkin's treatment of the women characters which is my only complaint.

Unka Heshie said...

Bravo, Chris!

Unknown said...

I don't think there was a moment when television news people became so horribly neutered. I think it has been a process over time. But if there was a moment I think it was when the end of the laws barring media consolidation were passed in the 90s. That coupled with the rise of the celebrity-first newscaster and the need to look 'hot' pretty much killed it. I don't bother with television news anymore, btw.