Part 3—The world-class dumbness remains: Has anyone ever dumbed the world down as much as Chris Matthews has?
In yesterday’s post, we recalled the disgraceful way he dumbed the world down back in the Clinton-Gore years.
Back then, Matthews was dumbing the mainstream press corps down. He did this in service to Jack Welch, his conservative near-billionaire corporate owner.
By coincidence, his salary went from $1 million to $5 million as he provided this service.
Matthews was quite influential back then, when there were many fewer cable “news” programs. At the time, his most reliable stooge was Newsweek’s Howard Fineman.
Today, Matthews has been repurposed. Today, he’s dumbing the liberal world down, with the help of trusted companions like Salon’s repurposed Joan Walsh.
Consider two programs Matthews did last week concerning the state of health reform. On each occasion, Walsh was there to assist in the dumbing.
On April 3, so was Michelle Bernard. In each case, the dumbness was almost overwhelming, as is the norm on Hardball.
News flash: Thanks to Matthews and others at his channel, cable viewers now have two stupendously stupid portraits of the world to choose from. At times, Matthews can almost make Fox look like the less stupid choice.
On April 3, Matthews was assisted by Walsh and Bernard. As the segment began, he played tape of several Republicans raising a fairly obvious question about the current status of the ACA:
MATTHEWS (4/3/14): For months, conservative critics have predicted the total failure of the president’s health care law. So when the president announced this week the law had enrolled over seven million people into the health care exchanges, did they react with some humility or at least some acceptance? Not quite.The highlighted statements by Barasso, Jindal and Cruz are all perfectly accurate, of course. Even the highlighted statement by Gohmert is probably accurate.
VAN SUSTEREN: You have said “cooking the books,” the administration. Do you stand by that?
BARRASSO: I do. We still don’t know how many people who have gone to the Web site to sign up actually paid.
JINDAL: We don’t even know what those numbers mean. We don’t know how many of those folks actually paid the premiums.
CRUZ: Well, look, the numbers are a bit of funny math, because they’re giving you numbers of who signed up. Those numbers don’t reflect, number one, who actually bought insurance and paid their first month’s premium.
GOHMERT: And now there are more lies coming out today. Seven million, which they clearly haven’t hit, because we’re hearing that maybe 25 percent, if that, have actually paid for their policies. It won’t end up being seven million today, when we get the truth. And it may be like Benghazi. It may be another year-and-a-half before we actually get the truth.
MATTHEWS: Benghazi! What did that have to do with anything?
But Matthews never showed any sign of knowing what these fellows were talking about. He made no attempt to address or answer any of the basic questions which are being widely asked about the current status of reform.
Instead, Matthews toyed with Gohmert’s reference to Benghazi, and with Rush Limbaugh’s reference to the Obama “regime.”
As he continued, Matthews dropped the T-bomb on a bunch of people who had made perfectly accurate statements concerning health care enrollment. In the modern cable world, this is how liberals get dumb:
MATTHEWS: What can you say about these guys, besides they are health care enrollment truthers right now?Matthews and Walsh discussed what it means when Rush uses the word “regime.” Walsh announced “a new form of birtherism,” then made this sad attempt to discuss health care enrollment:
Joan Walsh is editor at large at Salon and an MSNBC political analyst, and Michelle Bernard is the president of the Bernard Center for Women.
Thank you, Joan. First of all, the lingo: “regime.”
WALSH: They are—they’re sore losers. It’s sour grapes politics. And it’s crazy. It’s Joe Wilson times 1,000, right? Joe Wilson screams, "You lie." This is just another, many, many, many more versions of "You lie."That whole exchange is so dumb it squeaks, as anyone can see.
And the thing that is so hilarious—I mean, if it wasn’t sad, it would be hilarious—is that these guys, you know, they loved the numbers when the administration was admitting that, in October and November, those numbers were low.
MATTHEWS: Oh, they were real numbers.
WALSH: They were real numbers.
WALSH: Those numbers were real numbers. But now the numbers can’t be trusted. They’re liars! They’re cooking the books!
Everybody understands the (legitimate) questions, complaints and concerns about current enrollment figures. Unless they watch Hardball, that is, in which case the gods of cable “news” will work quite hard to get them completely dumbed down.
As everyone knows, Barrasso, Jindal and Cruz were raising a legitimate, widely-made point about the new enrollment figures. In fact, we don’t know how many of the 7.1 million will end up paying for their insurance. And we don’t know how many of those people are newly insured.
Overwrought rhetoric to the side, those are legitimate questions about the current state of enrollment. And those questions have been asked by a wide range of people, not just by Republicans.
But so what? On Thursday night’s Hardball, no effort was ever made to address or answer such questions. At no point did anyone indicate that these are legitimate questions at all.
Viewers were shown a range of Republicans making a perfectly accurate statement. In fact, we don’t know how many of the 7.1 million enrollees are actually going to pay.
After that, viewers were told that asking this question meant that the people in question were “health care enrollment truthers.” And just like that, it fell to Bernard to play her role in this game.
As recently as 2008, Bernard was still head of the Independent Women’s Forum, a major conservative group.
At that time, Bernard was being brought on Hardball to praise Candidate Obama and to help Matthews trash and insult Hillary Clinton. Matthews never asked why the head of the IWF was praising Obama so.
Today, Bernard is brought on Hardball to make speeches like the one which follows. Basically, she’s brought on Hardball so she can drop the bomb:
MATTHEWS: What is it about these people like Karl Rove running around election night with Megyn Kelly saying, “Oh, no, Iowa has been won,” like Baghdad Bob over there when we were invading. I didn’t like the war, but Baghdad Bob wasn’t exactly good on the facts on the ground.Obama calls it Obamacare too, though Bernard is still nursing that grievance.
These people, what is it? What is it, Michelle? This I don’t believe.
BERNARD: I said it off air and I’ll say it again right now. They are angry because this is an African American man and he is succeeding. They didn’t like him being elected the first time. They didn’t like him being elected the second time. He stands for so much that a marginalized Republican Party does not like.
And here is the dirty little secret, I think, why we continue to see them on this megaphone that “it’s a lie, it’s a lie, it’s a lie”—a lot of the people who are going to benefit from, quote/unquote, “Obamacare” are probably low-income, red-state Republican whites who are going to look up ten years from now and who are going to say, “This has made my life better.” So, maybe the mantra that I have grown up hearing about "big government is bad" might not be truthful. And maybe the Democratic Party is more appealing because it has made my life better. My wife can get treatment for breast cancer. I can get treatment.
Truly, Bernard has come a long way from her days as the head of the IWF. But then, very few players on Hardball are still the people they formerly were.
Can we discuss the dumbing?
For starters, Rove didn’t say, “Oh, no, Iowa has been won,” on election night. In fact, he didn’t say anything like that. That’s just one of the many tales which now get fed to us liberal rubes as our corporate “cable news” channel copies the methods of Fox.
No, Rove didn’t say that. But Bernard knew how to answer her host’s central question. Why are Republicans saying that we don’t know what the real enrollment figures are?
Why else? They’re saying it because they’re racists!
Never mind that many other people are asking the very same questions and saying the very same things. This answer was preordained. It’s designated propaganda for gullible pseudo-liberals.
Matthews did two segments last week about the new sign-up figure. Walsh assisted on each of these occasions.
No attempt was ever made to discuss the facts of the case. That said, the facts of the case have never mattered on Hardball.
The facts didn’t matter in 1999; the facts don’t matter today. The only thing that has ever mattered is the process of dumbing us down, in line with the prevailing desires of the current owners who pay that $5 million per year.
What are the current facts of the case concerning health care enrollment? For one approach, consider this:
On Monday night, Ari Melber guest-hosted for Chris Hayes. He started the program with the “good news,” or at least so he said:
MELBER (4/7/14): There is some important new survey data out today from Gallup. It’s not about politics, but it could have some major implications for politics and the public interest.Gallup isn’t the ultimate word in these matters. And the process of enrollment continues, as it will for years.
The data is about how many people have health care in the U.S., and it’s good news. Gallup is reporting today that the percentage of Americans who do not have health insurance has fallen to its lowest rate since 2008. It fell from a high of 18 percent to about 15.6 percent.
In the first three months of this year, the countdown to the ACA deadline, the rate of the uninsured fell 1.5 points. And Gallup measures in points but let’s look in terms of people. That’s 3.5 million people getting health care. So, that’s a snapshot of independent data.
Back in Washington, you may remember President Obama, of course, just announced that more than 7 million Americans signed up for health care before the ACA’s March 31st deadline. That took a while and included plenty of mistakes, but the ultimate number surpassed the Obama administration’s goal, and that’s just the new private markets. Another 3 million more gained insurance coverage through Medicaid and 3 million more than that have new coverage through their parents’ coverage.
That said, Melber’s “good news” was this: our level of insurance is almost where it was in 2008! He went on to rattle a bunch of data, all of which you can see analyzed in this post by Glenn Kessler.
(According to Kessler, the number of young adults who have gained insurance by staying on their family’s plan may be less than one million. He says only one third of the 7.1 million may be “newly insured.” For ourselves, we have no idea what the real numbers are, in large part because we watch MSNBC.)
Is it good news when we learn that insurance levels are back to their level from 2008? We’re not sure how to assess that, though it seems a bit underwhelming at first glance.
But on The One True Liberal Channel, you’ll be dumbed within an inch of your life. As on Fox, so too on MSNBC:
You’ll be relentlessly propagandized, in highly predictable ways. You’ll be told that the news is good, and that the folks in the other tribe are a bunch of truthers and racists.
A person can get very dumb watching the Fox News Channel. But today, there are two major ways to get very dumb. Today, you can also get very dumb watching Matthews and Walsh.
Matthews’ alignment has changed since 1999. The world-class dumbness remains.
Tomorrow: Matthews attempts to discuss the Mastro report
A world of constant change: Cable news is a land of constant change. At the end of Thursday’s segment, the change in Bernard was noted:
MATTHEWS: Joan, you’re great, as always.In fact, Bernard reinvented herself a long time ago. For some reason, Chris called it out last week.
WALSH: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: And I got to go. But Joan Walsh, thank you. I mean that with high honor.
Michelle Bernard, thank you for coming. You are moving left! You are moving left!
I detected you over the years. Look at her smiling! She knows that! You’re coming into the corner.
Bernard became a sudden Hardball regular in early 2008. Though she headed a major conservative group at the time, she was gushing in praise of Obama.
Chris kept forgetting to ask her why. Many things go unexplained on cable.