Hardball goes all Downton Abbey: Just this once, we’re going to let you ask us to praise Chris Matthews.
We’re also going to ask you to see where bad narratives come from.
Last night, in his opening segment, Matthews continued to speak in defense of Susan Rice. Two reliable colleagues, Wagner and Corn, echoed whatever he said.
This defense is happening much too late, which helps explain where this political problem came from. Beyond that, Matthews still doesn’t know what Rice said on the Sunday programs two years ago that got her in so much trouble.
When Rice appeared on those Sunday shows, she said the Benghazi attack may have been done by “al Qaeda itself.” Matthews still doesn’t seem to know that. But just this once, we’re going to praise him for the fact that this defense is occurring at all.
And not only that:
Early in last night’s segment, Matthews noted a gruesome fact about the American discourse. This is what he said as he introduced the twin echoes:
MATTHEWS (2/24/14): Why do John McCain and Darrell Issa and the rest keep yelling “Benghazi?” Why do they like to how much they respect Hillary Clinton, especially her work as secretary of state, and then continue to accuse her of cover-up, going AWOL in the face of the enemy and God knows what else?In a very rare occurrence, Matthews noted the blizzard of propaganda which has followed Rice’s appearance on last weekend’s Meet the Press. Indeed, even as Hardball was airing last night, Greta van Susteren was pounding away at this topic on Fox, displaying the problem which lies at the heart of the modern American discourse:
Alex Wagner is the host of Now, weekdays at 4 Eastern on MSNBC, and she’s joining us right now. And David Corn is Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones and an MSNBC political analyst.
David, it is relentless. It’s continuing through this hour. We’re getting it all day because of what happened yesterday on Meet the Press...
The two warring tribes have completely different sets of facts about this topic! And our biggest newspapers and biggest news broadcasts work extremely hard to avoid addressing this recurrent problem, which virtually defines the modern discourse.
Two shows aired at 7 o’clock, hosted by Matthews and van Susteren. The programs advanced completely different sets of facts about what happened at Benghazi, and about what Rice said and did when she appeared on the five Sunday programs on September 16, 2012.
(Matthews only seems to know that she appeared on Meet the Press that day. He shows no sign knowing what she said on Face the Nation.)
Matthews’ defense last night was spirited, but it was happening much too late. The bogus narratives about Rice gained traction in the fall of 2012, in part because of the silence of the MSNBC lambs.
As the disinformation took shape about Rice, the children ran off and hid in the woods. Quite literally, Rice’s name wasn’t even mentioned on Rachel Maddow’s show until after that November’s election, when Obama finally piped up in Rice’s defense. Lawrence and Ed didn’t mention Rice either. She was mentioned on Hardball just once.
Until Obama gave the word, the lambs remained extremely quiet. The poisonous narrative Matthews was combatting last night developed, unopposed, during that cowardly time.
One other point:
Last night, Matthews cited the “exhaustive report” which appeared in the New York Times late last December about the Benghazi attack. His echoes echoed his comments.
None of the tribunes noted this fact—even in that gigantic report, the Times continued to misparaphrase Rice in a way which kept complaints about her alive. The paper even flatly misquoted something Rice said on those Sunday programs.
Neither Matthews nor his echoes mentioned this problem with the “exhaustive” Times report. Darlings, they were discussing the New York Times! It simply isn’t done!
This poisonous narrative grew out of silence. Even now, so many months later, our cable stars don’t want to fight a full fight.
Dearest darlings, careers are at stake! In our own version of Downton Abbey, certain things simply aren’t done!