December 26, 2005

Chris Matthews, Rorschach Test

Posted by Eric Jaffa
Wednesday June 01st 2005, 6:28 am
Filed under: PTC, Media Watch

Chris Matthews smiling and wearing a suit and tie with the word Harball written below the photo
Chris Matthews

Does the media have a left-wing bias? A right-wing bias?

People’s opinions on media bias often coincide with how they perceive Chris Matthews, a host on cable news channel MSNBC.

Brent Bozell, founder of the Media Research Center whose mission is to expose “a strident liberal bias” in the media, started an April 27 article on Matthews this way:

Chris Matthews really needs to retire the name “Hardball” for his talk show on MSNBC. When it comes to liberal or radical guests, he ought to rename the show “Cuddles with Chris.”

When did this toothless trend become too obvious to ignore? It could have been with John Kerry about a year ago, when Matthews asked him “hardballs” like whether the Bush campaign was hoisting themselves “on their own petard by bringing up the issue of your service,” and whether it was possible the Republicans were questioning Kerry’s service because they realize “they can’t beat you on the jobs issue, they can’t beat you on foreign policy, so they’re gonna drop this nonsensical stuff [on you]?”

However, a recent article from Media Matters for America, whose mission includes monitoring for “conservative misinformation,” takes a different view of Chris Matthews.

Media Matters researcher Andrew Seifter wrote in a May 31 article:

Those who label Matthews a progressive have evidently ignored telling indicators to the contrary…Matthews previously admitted that he “voted for Bush” in the 2000 election on the October 3, 2003, and February 23, 2004, editions of Hardball. Further, his stated positions on a variety of issues undermine characterizations of him as a liberal, and his false and misleading claims have often furthered a conservative or Republican agenda. Some examples …

Matthews on the filibuster debate

Matthews has repeatedly espoused Republican talking points while discussing the Senate compromise over judicial filibusters. He has claimed, among other things, that progressive advocacy groups are “fanatical” and “militant”; that because of the recent bipartisan agreement aimed at averting the “nuclear option,” Democrats can stop “pouting and bitching … [and] actually participate in legislation now”; that Republicans might “get double-crossed or screwed by the Democrats”; and that the Republican position that every judicial nominee deserves an up-or-down vote “sounds great to me.”

Matthews on Social Security

Matthews baselessly impugned the motives of Democrats opposing Bush’s proposal to cut Social Security benefits for middle-class and wealthy retirees using so-called “progressive indexing” and falsely suggested that means testing would result in cuts only for those who “do well” or “make more than the average income.” Earlier in the Social Security debate, Matthews echoed privatization proponents’ crisis rhetoric and pushed the Bush administration’s terminology on Social Security privatization by referring to “personal accounts” more frequently than “private accounts.”

The articles by Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center and Andrew Seifter of Media Matters for America each respectively have more about the left-wing or right-wing bias of Chris Matthews.

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