One out of three ain’t half bad: We love Chris Matthews at moments like this.
Last night, right after Obama’s address, the brain trust gathered on The Ed Show. Big Eddie turned to Matthews first—and as he spoke, and spoke, and spoke, the analysts lustily roared.
Chris was performing his greatest trick. Once again, he showcased his perpetual lack of knowledge. In this case, he was bollixed by that “insider trading” thing:
SCHULTZ (1/24/12): Chris, the emotion tonight inside the Rotunda was not as great as it was in other speeches, but the ending was very, very powerful. What did you take, and the president, of course, covered a lot of ground tonight. What were some of the things that really hit you tonight?“Rachel, your thoughts on that?” Big Ed said. “That did come out of nowhere.”
MATTHEWS: There were so many points to this speech, I think you’re right about the optimism and call to duty and patriotic cooperation and on the common mission. I thought all that was part of, if you will, the confection of the speech, the structure of it.
But there were very interesting shots in it, I thought. One of them was, this thing that came out of nowhere, to me, having worked up there for all those years and covered it, insider trading by members of Congress. I mean, they must have—the wind must have come out of them when they heard that. Here’s an attack—it’s an attack, institutionally, against them that there is some sort of insider trading going on up there where they’re benefiting from their knowledge of what’s going on in committee work, and going off and investing quickly in some sort of day trading or whatever on stocks.
I have never heard any reference to it before in my life. Anything can go on as far as I know. But to make that kind of direct shot on national television with this huge audience, suggesting he knows where they live. As I said before tonight, he’s got something on them he’s about to use against them.
I thought it was basically a preparation for a Harry Truman-style campaign this fall. He’s going to run against Congress as an institution, not just the filibuster, not just the foot dragging and the scorched earth, but the institution itself, its morality.
I mean, insider trading? That was tough stuff.
And I wonder what he’s up to, if he’s got something that he’s going to work on here. But I’ll tell you, the members of Congress and their wives, their spouses, must have heard that. And tonight, when they go home, they must be saying, “What’s this the president is talking about, insider trading on Capitol Hill? Do you know something about it, dear?” It was a wild statement. I want to know what’s behind it.
The analysts lustily roared.
Obviously, Obama’s fleeting statement didn’t “come out of nowhere." As Rachel quickly disclosed, Obama’s one lonely sentence on this topic “comes out of an investigative piece on 60 Minutes not that long ago, a few weeks ago, that made some steaming allegations against members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.”
Rachel knew; Ed and Chris didn’t. But that’s close enough for cable news, where one out of three ain’t half bad!
For the record, the 60 Minutes piece aired on November 13 (click here). It did produce a lot of discussion. Just take a look at the “Editor’s Note” which tops that CBS transcript. (“Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi's office called the report a ‘right-wing smear.’ While Republican Speaker John Boehner's office called his inclusion in the story ‘idiotic.’”)
Matthews is paid $5 million per year. The gentleman still hadn’t heard.
This is typical stuff for Matthews, who never has the slightest idea what he’s talking about. He knows the scripts, but little else. On yesterday’s Hardball, for instance, his attempts to explain the current status of marginal tax rates displayed his typical cluelessness.
But ignorance of the most basic facts is common within our journalistic elites. Here's Richard Cohen, in his most recent column for the Washington Post:
COHEN (1/24/12): [Gingrich’s] mind is always in the tumble cycle. And even when he is spouting boilerplate, he can distance himself from his worn verbiage to say something fresh or provocative or ugly—it’s all the same to him. Out of nowhere, he has exhumed Saul Alinsky, whose fame is limited to university sociology departments, and yet whose name is so perfectly evocative of old-style radicalism, vaguely European in sound, that it fits Gingrich’s recent formulation, “people who don’t like the classical America.” Who dat, Newt?Please. Aulinsky is mentioned so often on Fox that he might as well be listed as an honorary co-anchor. Fox viewers are very “familiar with the late father of community organizing;” his utility within the pseudo-conservative world dates to the fact that Hillary Clinton wrote her college thesis about his work.
The reference, although a tad obscure, is nevertheless intriguing. It shows that Gingrich is familiar with the late father of community organizing who died in 1972, and who by occupation and residence (Chicago) is suggestive of Barack Obama. Alinsky was no communist but he was a radical, and to have his name mentioned by a presidential candidate is just plain thrilling—also chilling. This is the bright and the dark side of Gingrich. He knows his stuff and often can’t stop from showing off.
To this day, Cohen doesn't know this. He thinks Aulinksy is only known within sociology departments.
We love it when Matthews self-reveals, but the people sold to us as experts are often surprisingly clueless. Last Tuesday, MSNBC analyst Michael Eric Dyson said he had never heard about the famous whispering campaign in South Carolina in which it was said that John McCain had fathered a black child out of wedlock. (Just like Bill Clinton!)
This was a very famous part of Campaign 2000. Professor Dyson, now a political analyst, said he had never heard. Of course, as of early 2000, Professor Krugman still didn’t know that there was a difference between the two parties when it comes to the peddling of basic bullshit. Sometimes, career advancement comes first! The scut work of knowing about the real world is left to the shlubs and the rubes!
At any rate, we love it when Matthews does this. He had no idea what Obama was talking about—but then, he rarely does. He is paid $5 million per year to memorize the current scripts and apply them in the stupidest possible fashion.
He is still quite good at this skill, as he showed us again last night.
Parker checks a fact: We were also saddened this past week when Ashley Parker conducted a fact-check. To peruse her attempt, just click this.
Has there ever been a more pathetic attempt at a fact-check? Put it this way: Suppose you were teaching a college journalism class. Suppose you gave this assignment: Select a statement from a presidential debate. Conduct a check of the relevant facts.
If some student passed in Parker’s work, wouldn’t any professor say this: Did you actually read the full text of what the candidate said?
(In the statement she was checking, Candidate Romney specifically discussed the number of jobs which were lost at entities where Bain failed. Was Romney’s statement accurate? We have no idea. Parker didn’t seem to know that the statement was made. It's hard to believe that she actually read the transcript she was fact-checking.)
Parker works at the very top of the pseudo-journalistic pile. Why, for five brilliant years, she even worked as Maureen Dowd’s “research assistant!” Mainly she writes about haircuts and clothes—but last week, someone told her to fact-check a statement!
That may be the most pathetic attempt at a “fact-check” we’ve ever seen. People! No major surprise!