THE ROAD TO IRAQ: The liberal world just keeps getting conned!


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.

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...
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:

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.

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.
“I hate to push you so hard,” Matthews said, as he failed to push hard.

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.

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.
To Perle, Pelosi seemed to be abandoning fundamental American sovereignty. “It's great to have you on,” Matthews said in reply.

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?

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.
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.

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


  1. Gee, I don't know. I think I'll wait and see what Farhi says. Maybe this punditry isn't as bad as folk say.

    Oh, Farhi, what say you and the Post ombudsman? What? There is no more ombudsman, only you? Then tell me and TDH a tale of how nothing truly bad was done in reporting--only in punditry....

    What is truly sad is that Gawker has become a more relevant site than TDH on media criticism:

  2. "Because he wasn’t working for Fox, Matthews was actually quite influential among mainstream journalists during the Clinton-Gore years."

    Quite a remarkable statement. Backed up by what evidence? What made Matthews more influential "among mainstream journalists" or anybody else than any of the other babbleheads searching for an audience on MSNBC or CNBC (where Matthews actually worked in those days)?

    That he was repeating the same things everybody else was saying/writing?

    1. Matthews played a "fed-up with the Democrats" "Dubya" Democrat for right wing media mogul Jack Welch. I'd be willing to bet Welch feels he got more than his money's worth from the efforts of his hand picked boy.

  3. "The liberal world keeps getting conned."

    Really? Based on what evidence? Is there any evidence that The Liberal World gives a whit about what Chris Matthews says...about anything? How many people watch The One True Liberal Channel anyway? Enough to say it has any influence at all?

  4. Confused,

    Bob Somerby has explained many times why "The Liberal World" should give a whit about what Chris Matthews says. Here are a few grafs from an April, 2008 Howler post:

    Something true: In one part of his profile, Leibovich quotes the Politico’s Roger Simon saying something that’s true and important. In press circles, this guy’s a big deal, Simon says. Sad but important and true:

    >>>>>LEIBOVICH: Matthews is clearly an acquired taste, and some of his most devoted followers are Washington media figures and politicians. “The things people complain about I actually like,” says Roger Simon, the chief political columnist for the Politico news Web site and an occasional guest on “Hardball.” “His interruptions are invariably a reaction to something you just said, which indicates that he is, in fact, listening.” Simon calls Matthews “a major political force” whose shows are closely monitored by campaigns and journalists. “I know when I go on the show, I get comments, I get e-mails,” Simon told me. “He drives conversations.”<<<<<

    Matthews doesn’t have big ratings; for that reason, liberal observers sometimes wonder why they should care about what he does. But Simon makes an important point here. Hardball is a breeding ground for the dim-witted narratives which drive modern politics. In effect, Matthews is the current mayor of a major branch of the mainstream press corps. He and his cohort invent the tales that lesser spear-chuckers send airborne.

    In case you're interested in reading further, this is just one passage from the Howler series, Special report: Profiling Matthews!

    1. Right. Chris Matthews, the great shaper of American public opinion. The guy ever major pundit and Beltway reporter listens to before they dare put anything in print or over the airwaves.

      Makes even less sense today than it did the first time I read it, five years ago. In fact, re-reading it, I'm almost embarrassed for Somerby in his simplicity of logic.

      What Somerby was doing there, and continues to do, is a form of strawman argumentation usually practiced by basketball coaches as they build their next opponent up to legendary status, so that when they knock them down, it's a legendary victory for the ages.

      Matthews is a rather boring fellow who has always been fun to watch if you want to know what the Beltway conventional wisdom is. He may be good at amplifying what that conventional wisdom is, but the next original thought that enters Chris Matthews' head will be the first.

    2. Major flaw in Mr. Somerby's reasoning: That the media had anything at all to do with the invasion of Iraq. All of the cheerleading by Friedman or Hitchens or whomever was "useful idiot" entertainment. The decision to invade was made regardless of public opinion, regardless of the blabbering of self-aggrandizing bloviators, and unfortunately with no regard for those who raised their voices in opposition, both in the media (tm) or in the streets.

      Our media (tm) are court jesters and PR hacks at best. They echo and promote decisions like the Iraq invasion, but they have nothing to do with the making of them. Only in their own delusional self-regard is this otherwise.

      Mr. Somerby is waging an essentially irrelevant argument. At best, he's offering theater criticism.

    3. "Right. Chris Matthews, the great shaper of American public opinion."

      This same person then goes on to accuse someone else of "straw man." The comments in this blog are fucking priceless.

    4. Most of the profanity is used in comments that seem to come from a sock puppet, hmmm.

      And if TDH claims that Chris Matthews is the "current mayor of a major branch of the mainstream press corps," then TDH is indeed claiming Matthews is a great shaper of opinion, no?

      Sober up and try again, til.

    5. Somerby, April 2008, quoted above:

      "But Simon makes an important point here. Hardball is a breeding ground for the dim-witted narratives which drive modern politics. In effect, Matthews is the current mayor of a major branch of the mainstream press corps."

      Your apology would be accepted in advance, but I doubt you have the honesty to make it with your head so far up Somerby's hindquarters.

    6. cross post with 5:28.

      Isn't it interesting that you can't take Somerby's words to their logical conclusion to make a very valid point?

      Why no, that would upset the lizard brains in Somerby's own dwindling tribe (by the way, this site is now down to about 300 unique hits per day).

    7. Bingo, Chomskyzinn. Had the entire U.S. press corps been 100 percent unanimous in opposition to invading Iraq, Dubya not only would have invaded anyway, he would have called it an act of political courage.

    8. So, to his apologists, seriously, was Matthews indeed the lonely, courageous anti-war champion he now fluffs himself up to be?

    9. "Mayor of a major branch of the press corps" is not quite the same thing as "great shaper of American opinion." But you are now, in effect, citing the arguments of other people that Matthews is influential, when your original post attempted to use hyperbole to show that he isn't. I'm not sure where your head is, but up Somerby's ass would be a locational upgrade.

    10. "But you are now, in effect, citing the arguments of other people that Matthews is influential . . ."

      Maybe in your fevered mind, so lacking in fresh air.

      Allow me to repeat since you missed it the first time: Chris Matthews was an idiot then, and he remains an idiot now. And Somerby is an even bigger idiot for wasting this much time and bandwidth on the guy.

      Chris Matthews then and now is nothing more than an echo chamber for Beltway conventional wisdom, not the the originator of it. And as I said before, the next original thought that crosses Chris Matthews' mind will be the first.

      Why is that so hard for you to grasp? Because it doesn't fit with what Somerby is telling you, and you've lost the ability to think independently?