Part 5—Concerning the Mastro report: A person can get extremely dumb watching the cable show Hardball.
Dumbing down viewers isn’t just for Fox News any more! Consider what Hardball viewers were told last week about the Mastro report.
Also, consider what got withheld.
Chris Matthews discussed the Mastro report on Monday and Tuesday nights of last week. On each occasion, he gave the impression that his producers had dug up amazing material in the four thousand pages of supporting materials which were released along with the Mastro report itself.
Below, you see one excerpt from the Monday night show. For fuller excerpts, see yesterday’s report.
In the passage shown below, Matthews is speaking with Heather Haddon, a Wall Street Journal reporter whose editors should be concerned by the way she behaves on Hardball. As usual, Matthews is working a con:
HADDON (3/31/14): We went through all 4,000 pages of the exhibits, and there are some really interesting tidbits in there that you don’t get just by reading the report itself. And one of the things that came out was, what you were referring to, is some campaign e-mails.It’s true! Christie’s staff maintained lists of Democratic mayors from whom they hoped to gain endorsements.
So one interesting thing right in the beginning is they talk about a target list of Democrats that they were looking to woo and court for endorsements. And when—we’ve reported on this before. The campaign was very careful to say that the Democrats endorsed them voluntarily. This would seem to indicate there was at least some effort to really get these endorsements.
MATTHEWS: This is key! This is key! This is key, that there was, in fact, a backdrop to why people like Bridget Kelly and Wildstein would try to punish or push or whatever, manipulate, the mayor of Fort Lee.
Here it is! The Mastro report rejects any notion that there was a culture of political retaliation. But documents buried deep within the report raise questions about those conclusions.
In one, we learn that Christie’s campaign did keep a list of approved targets. These were Democratic mayors they wanted to endorse the governor, including Fort Lee mayor Mark Sokolich.
HADDON: Right. Right.
As far as we know, no one in Team Christie ever denied that the Christie campaign pursued Democratic endorsements. Christie himself has said as much, at some length.
That said, did we really learn this fact from a “document buried deep within the report,” possibly in those four thousand pages of exhibits?
Actually no, we did not. The initial target list of 21 Democratic mayors is first mentioned on page 2 of the Mastro report, at the start of the executive summary. This target list is discussed in detail in the body of the report, starting on page 51.
No one dug this information out, as Hardball viewers were told for two nights. No one found it buried somewhere. This information is prominently featured in the Mastro report. The first mention comes on page 2.
(For the relevant text from page 2 and page 51, see this earlier report.)
As usual, misimpressions and misinformation ran wild as Matthews pretended to stage a discussion. At the same time, basic information was being withheld from Hardball viewers.
That may explain a peculiar moment during Tuesday’s charade.
In the passage shown below, Matthews continues to give the impression that he and his staff found information “buried in the report” or perhaps in its supporting materials. Assemblyman John Wisniewski then authors a bit of a charade of his own.
At this point, MSNBC contributor Brian Murphy makes a peculiar statement. Needless to say, Matthews doesn’t ask him to explain:
MATTHEWS (4/1/14): Remember how they said—Mastro, the chief attorney here, who said, “Well, we couldn’t find a motive?” And then we realized that buried in the report is approved targets, exactly what we’ve been talking about from the beginning, that there was some kind of targeting of the mayor of Fort Lee for some kind of whatever, pressure, payback, whatever, revenge.When people like Wisniewski play Hardball, they will sometimes end up dissembling right along with their host. In this passage, Wisniewski worries about “a lot of bad language” even as he fails to mention significant, relevant information in the Mastro report.
And there you have him, number two on the list of people that are going to be targeted. What kind of a motive is this guy looking for, this prosecutor—this defense attorney in this case?
WISNIEWSKI: Well, clearly, this was a political operation. When we look at all of the connections, we see that Mayor Sokolich was somebody that they sought an endorsement from. Mayor Sokolich was somebody who didn’t deliver an endorsement. And there was clearly a lot of disappointment within the Team Christie that was involved in trying to secure that endorsement.
And what this report shows is that that disappointment manifested itself with a lot of bad language, at least, and raises the suspicion of what happened with the bridge and was that related to their disappointment in not getting the endorsement from Mayor Sokolich.
MURPHY: I’m not convinced that the whole bridge operation has something to do with Sokolich not endorsing. But clearly, there’s something—they’re unhappy with Mark Sokolich, and there’s some kind of trigger. And though they’re not really expecting to get his endorsement by that point, they’re clearly willing to squeeze people who they’ve, who they think they have a relationship and who they think they have some leverage over.
This brings us to Murphy’s statements:
“I’m not convinced that the whole bridge operation has something to do with Sokolich not endorsing?”
“They’re not really expecting to get his endorsement by that point?”
Why in the world did Murphy say that? What was he talking about?
Needless to say, Matthews didn’t ask. He and Wisniewski were pushing the notion that they had uncovered the fact that Sokolich’s endorsement was sought, and that this supports the initial theory about the motive for the lane closings.
Alas! The fact that Sokolich’s endorsement was sought appears on page 2 of the Mastro report! It is discussed in detail starting on page 51.
But why did Murphy say what he did? Why did he say he isn’t convinced that the lane closings were caused by the lack of an endorsement?
We can’t answer that question, of course; Matthews didn’t ask his guest to explain his statement. But the likely explanation is this: Murphy was simply reacting to the report, which includes apparent new information about the Christie campaign’s pursuit of that endorsement.
With the use of supporting documents, this chronology is presented in the Mastro report:
According to the Mastro report, Sokolich was on an initial “target list of 21 Democratic mayors” from whom the Christie campaign sought endorsements. But according to the report, the campaign learned that Sokolich wasn’t going to give an endorsement in March 2013.
According to the report, Sokolich was removed from subsequent target lists. Despite his failure to endorse, he seemed to remain in the good graces of the Christie administration, according to the report. (Evidence is offered.)
Bridget Kelly’s famous email to David Wildstein was sent in August 2013, almost five months later. On the basis of that chronology, the Mastro report expresses doubt that the failure to endorse was the motive for the lane closings.
We will guess that this chronology explains Murphy’s statement. But alas! If you were watching Hardball last week, you were never told about the chronology presented in the Mastro report. You didn’t see anyone try to evaluate that chronology.
Simply put, the basic contents of the Mastro report were withheld from Hardball viewers. Instead, viewers were handed one of Matthews’ familiar, typical scams.
In the passage shown above, Matthews seems baffled by Mastro’s failure to name a motive for the animus aimed at Sokolich. He then pretends that he found the actual motive “buried in the report” in those target lists.
This familiar type of scam has always driven Hardball. The program has always worked this way, going back to the bad old years when Matthews was dissembling, lying and issuing insults in his dogged attempts to slime both Clintons and Candidate Gore, apparently in service to his conservative owner, Jack Welch, the man who made Matthews quite wealthy.
Citizens never hear about this gross misconduct because of the press corps’ Code of Silence. Within the guild, everyone knows they must never discuss the things this con man does.
An even sillier moment occurred on last Tuesday’s Hardball. In this case, Wisniewski seemed to cover for Matthews’ trademark cluelessness.
Yes, this foolishness really occurred. Note Wisniewski’s highlighted statement:
MATTHEWS (4/1/14): Let me go back to Assemblyman Wisniewski. This to me is the question that jumps out at me.Matthews mentioned a “story” which “keeps percolating in his head.” He then described a phone conversation between Governors Christie and Cuomo.
I have a lot of respect for the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo. And this story keeps percolating in my head. A conversation occurred in which the governor of New Jersey, your governor, called upon the governor of New York to basically call off the probe. He didn’t like all this push from the other side of the bridge commission people—
MATTHEWS: —going into this thing. He didn’t like Foye’s attitude. Do you think there is any way you guys can ask the governor of New York to testify before your legislative committee and find out what happened in that conversation? Because it’s critical.
WISNIEWSKI: Chris, that’s one of the major components of this investigation that we’ve yet to fully examine. But we have to look at those facts. We have to look at whether or not that conversation happened, and what was said.
But what’s really disturbing here is every time we turn over one set of facts, we see that there are more unanswered questions, such as the one you just pointed out.
What we need to have is, this is—let’s be fair. This is not just about Chris Christie. This is about whether there was an abuse of power, how it could happen, and how do we prevent it from happening again.
But what we see in the Mastro report is almost a definite attempt to shut down the inquiry so that nobody looks any further. And that’s very troubling.
But how odd! Wisniewski said, “We have to look at whether or not that conversation happened, and what was said.”
If that conversation didn’t happen, we feel sure that nothing was said. Wisniewski, of course, was working around Matthews’ cluelessness.
Duh. Governor Christie denied, long ago, that such a conversation took place. The next day, Governor’s Cuomo’s spokesman, Matt Wing, supported what Christie said.
It’s possible that both governors are lying, of course. But more than three months later, there’s still no sign that Matthews has heard that Governor Cuomo, who he respects, supported Governor’s Christie’s account of this story—the story which keeps percolating in Matthews’ pathetic head.
In many ways, the Mastro report is very poor work. On the positive side, it does seem to present new facts about the attempt to gain Sokolich’s endorsement.
If you watched MSNBC last week, that rather detailed chronology was completely disappeared. You weren’t told that this apparent new information even exists.
Instead, you heard a bunch of bullshit about the way information was found deep within the supporting materials—information which first appears on page 2 of the report.
What kind of society tolerates a person of Matthews’ extremely low type? It’s very easy to get very dumb watching this bad person’s program. Also this:
The Code of Silence is strong. In a world ruled by people like Matthews, it’s very easy to get dishonest in “journalism” careers.
Still to come: Matthews and David Brock