10 January 2008

Can MSNBC keep Chris Matthews on the campaign beat?

There's an incredible video clip making the rounds on the Internet and it raises serious questions about whether MSNBC can continue to allow Chris Matthews to cover this campaign.

On the cable network's 'Morning Joe' show the morning after the New Hampshire primary, Matthews talked about Hillary Clinton's surprising win.

Matthews, who was as befuddled as anyone about the breakdown of the polling that pundits like himself depend on in making their living, declared that Clinton's victory - and in fact her entire political career- came down to her tenacity, but also to sympathy for her over her travails during the Monica Lewinsky affair.

Here's the clip.

Here's a verbatim quote of the key parts of the clip:

Let's not forget -- and 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 merits. She won because everybody felt, "My God, this woman stood up under humiliation, right? That's what happened."

I watched MSNBC's coverage of New Hampshire most of the night. It was a far cry from the days of David Brinkley and Howard K. Smith and Walter Cronkite.

Matthews, who was supposed to be the grounding wire for a collection of fringe characters from each end of the political spectrum, seemed himself to be going off the deep end through much of the evening. (Check out this clip from the Daily Show. You have to scroll forward to the 5 minute mark to get to Matthews)

Keith Olberman was doing his schtick most of the night, while also attempting to blend in a bit of serious evaluation. And, as we said, the rest of the cast was comprised of fringe characters who spent the night spinning and not evaluating.

And then there was Tom Brokaw - the only real journalist on the MSNBC podium that night - trying desperately to bring some order to the chaos and add reasoned analysis.

The old-line, over-the-air networks seem to have ceded the political coverage to their wacko siblings on their cable outlets so the networks themselves can keep running Can You Dance Better Than A Fifth Grader without interruption.

If you want unvarnished, insightful - if a bit pompous - analysis on election night, these days it appears you are just out of luck.

1 comment:

Sam said...

According to Media Matters (quoting The Philadelphia Inquirer), Matthews said of Hillary Clinton, "I hate her. I hate her. All that she stands for."


The level of contempt for Hillary is stunning at times, and misplaced. I wish she could claim to be the liberal that her opponents critique her for, but she isn't. And that's her biggest drawback.