Part 2—Getting by with the help of his friends: Was Chris Matthews “a lonely voice” in the run-up to the war in Iraq?
Well actually no, he was not. But last Friday night, in the 10 PM hour, that’s the way David Corn said he remembered it.
(For background, see part 1 of this award-winning series. To watch the full program from last Friday night, just click here.)
Corn and Matthews were part of an all-star panel discussing Hubris, an MSNBC documentary. Corn vouched for Matthews as the great broadcaster rewrote the history of his own work in the run-up to war with Iraq.
Earlier that evening, on Hardball, Matthews had lionized his alleged opposition to the war. During the later discussion program, he extended the fantasy version of his own past conduct.
In fairness, it isn't easy to deal with Matthews at The One True Liberal Channel. At one point in Friday's discussion program, moderator Chris Hayes tried to insert a small bit of historical truth.
Hayes had already watered his comment down. But Matthews jumped in quickly:
HAYES (3/221/3): Let’s be honest, right? Cable news did not cover itself in glory during that period either, the medium we’re in. Phil Donahue had a show on this network that was rating very well and he was an anti-Iraq voice and he did not have that show very long and there are calculations about what is acceptable... The acceptable boundary that got asserted was that seriousness was getting inside the details of the case and how strong it was and when he was going to get a weapon and not just saying, “This is crazy.”Poor Corn! Before he could jump in to vouch for Matthews, Matthews jumped in and vouched for himself! Once again, viewers were given the bogus impression that Matthews fought all that “scribe reporting” in the run-up to war in Iraq.
CORN: I mean, Chris will— Chris—
MATTHEWS: I was against the war from Day One—
CORN: Yeah, you were—
MATTHEWS: —long before even they started selling the damn thing. Well, here’s the problem with so-called objective media, and it isn’t cable. Cable’s fabulous! No, it is. Objective journalism is basically scribe reporting. Write down what the military is telling you to do in their bulletins, “5 o’clock follies,” used to call it in the Vietnam War. Put it out! How about critical journalism? That’s what we need, and cable’s better at it, I think. This embedding was great, we knew what was going on. But was anybody challenging?
In the process, Hayes stepped away from his thoughtless initial remark, in which he recalled the fact that there really was an anti-war voice on MSNBC in those days—but it was Donahue, not Matthews. And good God:
Last night, Matthews continued the reinvention of his professional history. During the final segment of Hardball, he continued to create the latest set of false tales about the run-up to war in Iraq. Helped along by a pair of trusties, he thundered about the horrible journalism done by the hacks before the war started.
Joan and David agreed not to note the type of work Matthews himself had done. As he closed the segment, Matthews vowed that he would pursue this topic further.
Was Matthews a “lonely voice” in opposition to war with Iraq? Actually, no, he was not, despite what David says he remembers. Tomorrow, for example, we’ll look at the nervous breadown Matthews staged on the day Colin Powell addressed the U.N.
Matthews screeched for war with such fervor that night that Richard Perle had to talk him down! Moments like those are now being disappeared with the help of Chris' well-paid friends.
After Powell spoke, the very loud Matthews begged for war. For today, let’s examine the time Chris Matthews clearly said that he opposed the war with Iraq.
It came on Sunday, September 1, 2002, in the final newspaper column Matthews wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle. The column appeared over Labor Day weekend.
The column began with a very great man nostalgically looking back:
MATTHEWS (9/1/02): Hail and farewellNot failing to honor the great Dixiecrats, Matthews shared his fabulous story. His entire column this day used only 625 words. As the column ended, he wrote this one short note RE Iraq:
For 15 years, I have been among the grand and lucky few to write a newspaper column. It's something I had wanted for a long time, something I owe to one bloke: Larry Kramer.
In June 1987, I lingered with him over lunch and several carafes of house white in a South of Market restaurant. My sister-in-law Ann was about to get married at the Metropolitan Club, and I was just checking in with an old friend. Larry had been metro editor of the Washington Post and was now executive editor of the Examiner. (He's now chairman and CEO of MarketWatch.com.)
He asked if I wanted to write a column. I said, as if kneeling at the altar of my life, "I do," and it has made all the difference.
I can't remember not wanting to be a columnist. When I was in college, my hero was Joe McGinnis. Just 25, he was already writing three times a week in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
At Chapel Hill in grad school, I'd pore over the page of the Raleigh News & Observer across from the editorials, what I'd later learn to call the "op-ed page." That's where I came across that crusty Dixiecrat, James J. Kilpatrick, and began my lifelong homage to him and other great newspaper columnists.
MATTHEWS: But this is my last column. The wisdom of middle age has taught me I can't have—or do—it all.You know where I stand, Matthews said that day, with much of America off at the beach. He said he hated the upcoming war. He virtually never said such things in the months which followed.
I remember Sen. Ed Muskie the night he won his last election back in 1976. He'd had some vodka, which I sensed he'd drunk fast—like a Russian against the winter. He said:
"The only reason to be in politics is to be out there all alone and then be proven right."
That goes for good columnists, too.
So I'll say it: I hate this war that's coming in Iraq. I don't think we'll be proud of it. Oppose this war because it will create a millennium of hatred and the suicidal terrorism that comes with it. You talk about Bush trying to avenge his father. What about the tens of millions of Arab sons who will want to finish a fight we start next spring in Baghdad?
Well, that's it for now. You know where I stand.
Tomorrow, we’ll show you where Matthews stood five months later, when Powell made his address to the U.N. But even today, make no mistake:
Matthews is one the greatest dissemblers ever to hit the American scene. With the help of well-paid friends, he whored your interests out to the right all during the Clinton/Gore years.
No one pimped more phony tales about Candidate Gore during the twenty months of Campaign 2000. Fiery people like Joan and David let his disgraceful conduct go, and they still won't discuss it today.
George Bush ended up in the White House, with Matthews eagerly telling the world how much he personally liked him.
At present, Chris is inventing fake stories again; the trusties are there to help him do it. His entire career had been built in this way.
The career liberal world gulps it whole. So do our semi-careerists.