Part 4—Richard Perle and our own liberal swine: It’s amazing how often we liberals get conned while watching The One True Channel.
Consider one of the many things Chris Matthews said on last Friday’s Hardball.
Matthews was lustily praising himself as a brave anti-war freedom fighter in the run-up to the war in Iraq. He pimped himself on last Friday’s Hardball, then again on the 10 PM discussion program concerning the documentary, Hubris.
This Monday, he was at it again, praising himself for his antiwar stand. In all these instances, he got over with a whole lot of help from his corporate on-air friends.
Let’s consider something he said last Friday on Hardball.
Matthews began by lustily praising his own brave anti-war stand. Later, with a touch of anger in his voice, he recalled one of the biggest hawks in the months before Iraq.
Liberals were handed this big pile of crap on last Friday’s Hardball. To watch the full segment, click this:
MATTHEWS (3/22/13): In the run-up to that war in Iraq, nobody was a bigger hawk than Richard Perle, a real intellectual, I must say, a member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board.You can hear the edge in Matthews’ voice as he describes the pre-war conduct of Perle—and as he discusses Perle’s failure to come to terms with his past conduct. As he spoke, Matthews failed to recall a pair of key facts:
He repeatedly asserted that Saddam Hussein had ties to Osama bin Laden and was feverishly working to acquire a nuclear bomb. And he promised, Richard Perle did, that the war would be over within a matter of months. And this week, in an NPR interview, he was asked a very important question.
I think it’s a good question. His non-answer is informative. Let’s listen:
RENEE MONTAGNE: Ten years later, nearly 5,000 American troops dead, thousands more with wounds, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead or wounded. When you think about this, was it worth it?
PERLE: I’ve got to say I think that is not a reasonable question. What we did at the time was done in the belief that it was necessary to protect this nation. You can’t, a decade later, go back and say, “Well, we shouldn’t have done that.”
(End of audiotape)
MATTHEWS: So don’t ask whether we should have gone or not, another useless— Well, anyway, another unrepentant war hawk is Paul Wolfowitz...
Perle was a frequent Hardball guest in the run-up to Iraq. And his claims were rarely challenged by Hardball’s warmongering host.
Case in point: Perle appeared as a Hardball guest on February 5, 2003—the fateful day when Colin Powell addressed the United Nations. On that evening’s Hardball, Perle was gifted with two full solo segments.
Here’s an example of the way Matthews opposed the rush toward war:
MATTHEWS (2/5/03): We're back with Richard Perle.“I hate to push you so hard,” Matthews said, as he failed to push hard.
To me, the most compelling statement by the secretary of state today concerned U.S. interests, particularly the possibility that Saddam Hussein is working hand-in-glove with al Qaeda in teaching those terrorists how to use weapons of mass destruction against us. When did you first become aware of that kind of activity? Did you before today?
PERLE: Well, it's some while back. What happened—
MATTHEWS: Actual instruction in chemical weapons use by Iraqis of al Qaeda operatives, did you know about that before today?
PERLE: I did, yes.
MATTHEWS: Why didn't you tell us? Why doesn't anybody know this before today?
PERLE: This was highly classified, and nobody should be under any illusion. We paid a price today for this disclosure. We disclosed links and communications that will now be severed.
MATTHEWS: But the main source— I hate to push you so hard, but we only have a little bit of time. The main source of the testimony, he said, was a captive down in Guantanamo Bay. How is that a security risk?
PERLE: Well, that is not a security risk.
MATTHEWS: He's the one that gave the narrative of how this is being done.
PERLE: No, some of what we've gotten from detainees, they will assume we have been able to get or at least they'll think we've been able to get, but in the intelligence business, you want to disclose as little as possible about what you know, and how you know it.
MATTHEWS: Is there more coming? Is there more that you know that you can't tell?
PERLE: There is certainly more that is known—
MATTHEWS: Is there more of this connection between al Qaeda and Iraq that you know that you can't tell us?
PERLE: Probably, but nothing that would change the thrust of it. Nothing inconsistent with what Colin Powell has said.
In that exchange, Perle gives several non-affirmation affirmations, but Matthews fails to notice. He seems to accept the accuracy of Powell’s claims. He seems to accept Perle’s slippery claim that “there is certainly more that is known.”
At this point in the conversation, Matthews changed his focus, asking Perle to discuss the domestic politics of the situation. Matthews lobbed a big fat softball at Perle—and Perle hit it out of the park.
Responding to Matthews’ big slow pitch, Perle essentially challenged the patriotism of Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats. In response, Matthews thanked him, “as always:”
MATTHEWS (continuing directly): Let's talk politics here at home before we quit. Everybody saw the same presentation by Colin Powell. The recalcitrance in the Security Council, the permanent members, Russia, China, and France did what they thought, we thought they'd do, which is to say more time for the inspectors.To Perle, Pelosi seemed to be abandoning fundamental American sovereignty. “It's great to have you on,” Matthews said in reply.
Are you surprised that the Democrats at home are being recalcitrant about this war move, are still saying, “Let's wait for the U.N.?” And I'm counting everybody here—Pelosi, all the people who were quoted today.
PERLE: Well I am a little surprised and of course, when they say, “Let's wait for the U.N.,” what they mean is, “Let's wait for at most three countries—France, Russia and China.” And for Nancy Pelosi or any other American to say that our policy should be determined by the views of France, Russia and China seems to me to be abandoning fundamental American sovereignty.
MATTHEWS: It's great to have you on, Richard, as always. Thanks.
For the record, Perle also appeared as a solo Hardball guest on February 14, February 25 and March 10. But there you see Matthews’ “lonely voice” in the run-up to war with Iraq. To review his full meltdown on that evening's program, just see yesterday's post.
Can we talk? Whatever his private views may have been, Matthews was not a lonely voice against the war in the run-up to Iraq. But liberals are now being handed that story when they watch The One True Liberal Channel. They see people like David Corn directly asserting this bogus claim. They see people like Chris Hayes failing to challenge this claim.
But then, we liberals were being conned by our own back in real time too. Yesterday, we showed you the way Matthews begged for war on February 5, the evening of Powell’s presentation. But so what? Nine days later, Joan Walsh presented a long interview with Matthews in Salon, as noted in yesterday's post.
This was part of the manifest nonsense Walsh presented that day:
WALSH (2/14/03): You're one of the few mainstream American commentators or journalists who'll take on these questions directly—openly question our support for the Sharon approach, oppose the Iraq war. Why do you think that is?On what planet was Walsh living in February 2003? As everybody understood, Phil Donahue was an actual antiwar voice on MSNBC, although the suits were weighing him down with requirements for extra pro-war guests; his nightly program aired right before Hardball each evening. But in that first exchange, Matthews pretended that Donahue didn’t exist, and that he himself was bravely opposing the war.
MATTHEWS: Yeah, who's with me? Nobody's with me, on television anyway. I think there are several factors here. Most people agree you have to stop weapons of mass destruction—the question is how. Then there's the emotional response to 9/11, there's an emotional demand for payback, which a lot of journalists are reluctant to question. And then there's Israel—a lot of people support Israel, and it's important to Israel to take out Iraq. So it's all mixed together. It's a combination of motives.
MATTHEWS: We've got to recognize that when we march into Iraq, we're setting up the card tables in front of every university in the Arab world, the Islamic world, to recruit for al-Qaida. Why don't we just go set up the card tables ourselves, right now? Sign them up to commit suicide. And you never hear anybody talking about this. It would be helpful if there were someone telling the president, “Well, yes, there is this danger from Iraq, but there's almost a certitude of inflaming the world against us if we intervene.”
WALSH: That used to be Colin Powell's role.
MATTHEWS: Yeah, what happened to him? I really don't understand that.
Walsh raised no objections to this peculiar statement.
In that second exchange, Matthews said he couldn’t understand why Powell wasn’t urging caution. Nine days earlier, he had virtually wet his pants on the air, begging for instant war in reaction to Powell’s presentation
Surely, Walsh must have reviewed that earlier program. But she said nothing about it. Instead, she said, in her description of Matthews, that “almost every night he battles bloodthirsty Iraq hawks.”
That wasn't an accurate statement. Not in February 2003, not in Octo0ber 2002.
Matthews is one of the greatest dissemblers of the modern age. Unfortunately, he has also been one of the most influential of our modern dissemblers.
Because he wasn’t working for Fox, Matthews was actually quite influential among mainstream journalists during the Clinton-Gore years. All through the twenty months of Campaign 2000, he pimped the litany of slanders aimed at Candidate Gore as no other mainstream player did.
People like Walsh refused to complain. Bush ended up in the White House.
Readers of Salon got conned when they read that interview with Matthews. Liberal viewers of The One True Channel are still getting conned today.
This is a truly remarkable process. Simply put, it makes a mockery of our pseudo-democracy.
Matthews is the leading player in this ongoing act of deception. But without the help of his TV star friends, it couldn’t have happened this way.
Tomorrow: The names of this bad person’s friends