Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Chris Matthews' bias and today's Republican Presidential Candidate debate

Updated at 10:00 pm on Wednesday night: The Medium is the Message

For more about the Left leaning bias of the CNBC's John Harwood (then also of the Wall St. Journal) and that of MSNBC, go here for a discussion of their not so fairandbalanced discussion of the 2006 Roskam-Duckworth race in the Illinois 6th CD.
On Saturday, a few of the panelists at Fox News Watch (See below) suggested that the Republican Presidential candidates should refuse to show up at this afternoon’s debate (broadcast live as this post is being written, CNBC, 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm [CST] and rebroadcast on MSNBC tonight, 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm [CST]) as long as Chris Matthews is the host.

The Fox News Watch panelists may have a point. Matthews, who was tough on Bill Clinton and perhaps Hillary, primarily during the impeachment era, has become a non-stop basher of the Iraq War, Bush and all things Republican, See, e.g., here, and a kiss-up to lefties. For example, during the recent General Petraeus flap, Matthews, while interviewing one of the Moveon.org leaders, sympathized with him for the attacks Move on received from Republicans on the issue, with Matthews noting, “At least you haven’t killed anybody.” [Matthews no doubt making a reference to those who have died in the Iraq War, with Matthews apparently thinking those were all unnecessary deaths].

Partly, the Hardball left bias seems to reflect a business decision by MSNBC (Matthews’ flagship home) to become branded as far liberal in the same way many perceive the Fox News Channel as far conservative. That is, MSNBC has sought to cure its long time sagging profitability by cornering the market on liberal viewers.

However, one major difference between MSNBC and the FNC is that FNC has a serious news program, Special Report, with a serious host (Brit Hume) and serious correspondents who can staff a debate and panelists, e.g., Mort Kandracke, Bill Kristol, Fred Barnes, Mara Liasson (NPR) and Juan Williams (NPR). While Special Report leans right, it contains plenty of ideological diversity in its panelists and fairly straight reporting from its correspondents and host.

MSNBC has nothing like Special Report. Instead, it has Keith Olbermann’s Countdown (which is non-stop bashing of Bush, other Republic
ans and anything not left of center) and Matthews’ Hardball, which is also pretty much a bashing of anything and anyone right of center. It’s idea of balance is to bring on guests like Pat Buchanan, who is a questionable Republican and surely not a conservative (See Pat’s protectionist views on trade).

MSNBC has used Olbermann as a host of one of the Democratic Presidential candidate debates it co-sponsored with the AFL-CIO, and Olbermann couldn’t have been more biased to the left in his questioning of the candidates.

Yes, MSNBC does have Tucker Carlson and Joe Scarborough in its stable. Carlson was once thought to be a conservative, but now he seems to focus on fluff and keeping his hair as well groomed as that of John Edwards. Scarborough, even as a congressman, wasn’t much of a conservative, and it hasn’t gotten better since he has been surrounded by liberals at MSNBC. And, nobody at MSNBC seems to think of staffing a debate with the likes of Scarborough and Carlson, although both would be an improvement over Olbermann, which is damning with feint praise.

For today’s effort, which was billed as focusing on “The Republicans, the economy and you,” CNBC and MSNBC billed it as co-hosted by Matthews and Maria Bartiromo, with both asking questions and joined by MSNBC’s John Harwood (who was one of the many Wall St. Journal left leaning correspondents) and the WSJ’s Jerry Seib. This reporter doesn’t know enough about Bartiromo and Seib to comment on their bias, if any. Perhaps he will after he has watched the entire debate.
During the portion of the debate watched by this reporter: the first half hour, or so, and a part of the second half hour, Matthews had wandered away from the Economy to ask about whether a military action against Iran would require, constitutionally, a congressional approval. Matthews also seemed to give Ron Paul a lot of room to rant, especially when the ranting seemed to be of a nature that would please Matthews. Harwood was his usual left of center guy, asking whether the billions of dollars of profits made by oil companies is appropriate and whether the companies should be required to spend the profit in a way that Harwood would like.

But, we’ll go back and watch the entire debate and report on it, as well as the bias in the questioning, or lack thereof, later in the evening.

One short note, from the little we saw of the debate, it looked like Rudy got off to a fast start, with Mitt not far behind. As has been his early trademark, Fred was lacking in energy, and so was McCain, but not quite by as much. Huckabee was speaking well. Ron Paul is starting to appear, even more so than he has, as the town crank, with a long rant this afternoon about the sinister interests and activities of banks. Tancredo continues to be a one issue candidate (immigration), as does Hunter (defense). Brownback, as usual, was like a drink that is too sweet. Candidates Alan Keyes and John Cox were apparently excluded. No one reported whether Keyes had chained himself to the debate hall, as a way of protesting his failure to get an invitation. *****************************************************
Eric Burns (Fox News Watch host): The MSNBC show, Hardball, starring Chris Matthews, is ten years old this week. At a party after one of this week’s shows, Matthews blasted the Bush administration, telling his fellow partygoers that the White House was constantly calling MSNBC to complain about Hardball and then Matthews said, I’m paraphrasing, “God help us- if we had Cheney during the Cuban missile crisis, we’d all be under a parking lot.” Matthews is scheduled to host a Republican debate next week with CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo—and he would seem not to be the ideal choice on the basis of that comment.

Cal Thomas (Syndicated columnist and FNW panelist): If I were a Republican Presidential Candidate, I would refuse to show up as long as he is the host. The Democrats are boycotting Fox [hosted Democrat Presidential candidate debates]. Let the Republicans boycott any so-called debate with Chris Matthews as the host, it’s an outrage.

Neal Gabler (media writer and FNW panelist): He has said equally outrageous things about Democrats. And, let me say to Cal, if I were a Democrat, I wouldn’t show up to a Democrat debate because Chris Matthews should not be given the privilege of asking these questions. He’s not serious enough for that.

Cal Thomas: Amen.

Jim Pinkerton (Newsday and FNW panelist): Anyone who wants to know the real soul of Chris Matthews can go to YouTube and watch Jon Stewart interview him on his dopey book about, “Life as a Campaign.” It’s about--Be a fake and make money on it. And, Jon Stewart said, “How is that good, how is that virtuous?” And, Matthews, of course, had no answer.

Jane Hall (American University professor and FNW panelist): You know, I think we are sort of back to where we started, which is Keith Olbermann as a journalist or a commentator—the whole thing is a mish mash. We should boycott everybody. I’m back to objective journalism. There are three of us left who feel this way.

Neal Gabler: There aren’t any objective journalists left. That’s the problem.

Eric Burns: You understand that part of everybody is these five somebodies. So, boycott everybody else.
Fox News Watch, Fox News Channel, October 6, 2007
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at JBCG@aol.com. You may watch "Public Affairs," shows with Presidential Candidates Richardson, Obama, McCain, Giuliani and Cox and many other pols at www.PublicAffairsTv.com