Part 4—Some things never change: An especially ridiculous moment occurred on Monday evening’s Hardball.
Chris Matthews had been condemned to discuss Benghazi with Rep. Mike Turner, an utterly hapless Republican congressman from the state of Ohio.
Turner has served in the Congress ten years, but his skills, and his knowledge of Benghazi, seem extremely limited. Again and again and again and again, he repeated a limited mantra:
The White House deceived the public about Benghazi through its agent, Susan Rice!
Turner said it again and again and again. But in his opening statement to Matthews, he made an especially ridiculous comment:
TURNER (5/13/13): What we learned in the past week with the congressional hearings is that the narrative that was coming out of the administration from these talking points has no basis in fact. It is, in fact, a fiction. Mr. Hicks, who testified before us, said that Susan Rice hadn’t even spoken to him, the lead diplomat on the ground, after the ambassador was killed.In fact, Ambassador Stevens didn’t say “that there was no demonstration, that this was a terrorist attack.” Instantly, Turner was misstating basic facts, though Matthews showed no sign of knowing.
And, you know, he clearly said that there was no demonstration, that this was a terrorist attack. They knew it was a terrorist attack. They knew who had perpetrated the terrorist attack. They’ve already claimed credit. And yet the White House and the administration chose to write a narrative that was based on fiction.
That said, the truly ridiculous part of that statement is the part we’ve highlighted: Susan Rice didn’t speak to Gregory Hicks before she went on TV!
The sheer stupidity of that complaint would be hard to surpass. And yet, that complaint has been common in the last week as Benghazi returned center stage. According to Turner, Rice should have conducted her own investigation before she did those Sunday shows—and she certainly should have interviewed the brilliant, inerrant Hicks!
This is an utterly stupid notion. But Matthews showed no sign of knowing that—that, or anything else.
Turner behaved like a cipher all through this pitiful interview. He repeated a narrow set of claims again and again and again. To watch a really bad TV performance, punish yourself—just click here.
And yet, if you watch that woeful segment, you’ll see a second horrendous performance. You will see the performance by Matthews, who kept agreeing with Turner: Susan Rice misled the public on those Sunday programs!
Turner was utterly clueless this day. If anything, Matthews was worse. Again and again, he agreed with Turner’s basic claim. Here you see one gruesome example, ending with a confession:
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you another question again. The same question again. I’ve asked you three times. What did the president know, to your knowledge, in terms of having her say what she said on Meet the Press that Sunday? I watched it. You watched it. Did the president have a role in that or not?“You don’t know any more than I do!” Have truer words ever been spoken?
TURNER: I think he has a role today. And that is, as you and I both have said, we know what she said is not true. And the administration insists—
MATTHEWS: I agree with that. The fifth time you’re saying it.
TURNER: —that it wasn`t true.
MATTHEWS: OK. So you don’t know any more than I do.
All through his ludicrous session with Turner, Matthews kept agreeing with his Republican guest—what Susan Rice said that day wasn’t true. Here we see another exchange in which Matthews threw Rice down the stairs:
TURNER: The administration official goes on national television and says a fiction—well, that’s what obviously we’re trying to get down to. Now, the president says he has released e-mails only because the Congress asked. He’s not stepped forward and said, “Excuse me, I’ve now learned that a lead administration official on my behalf told a fiction to the nation.” That’s what he should be focusing on. And that’s what we`re trying to find out—Ambassador Rice “told a fiction to the nation,” Turner blustered. “Fair enough,” Matthews replied.
MATTHEWS: Fair enough. In the course of your investigations, Mr. Turner, have you come up with any e-mail that suggests the president was involved?
All through this gruesome segment, Matthews kept throwing Rice down the stairs as he tried to establish a limited claim: Susan Rice told a fiction, but Obama didn’t tell her to say it! In the course of advancing this narrow defense, Matthews kept throwing Rice under a very large bus—and he kept displaying the full-blown ignorance that has long been his trademark on Hardball.
Did Matthews know any facts this day? Consider this sad exchange from early in this sad segment:
MATTHEWS: Who told Susan Rice to say what she said that day? Was that the president, personally, deputizing her to say it was a spontaneous demonstration that evolved into a terrorist attack of some form? What do you think did it? Was it the president or one of his people? What do you know?On several occasions, Matthews asked a form of this question: “Who told Susan Rice to say it was a spontaneous demonstration that evolved into a terrorist attack of some form?”
TURNER: Well, what we know is that Susan Rice—
MATTHEWS: No, do you know if the president was involved? Just tell me.
TURNER: —created this fiction. And Susan Rice went on national television and made statements that had no basis in truth.
Matthews showed no sign of knowing that this question had been definitively answered four days before. But then, what else is new?
Who told Rice to cite that spontaneous demonstration? Matthews kept challenging Turner to prove that Obama told her to say it. He showed no sign of knowing what was now clear: That claim came straight from the CIA, in its first proposed talking points.
Four days earlier, ABC News had released twelve versions of the talking points from which Rice worked on those Sunday programs. In the very first paragraph of its first proposed version, the CIA had said this: “We believe based on currently available information that the attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex.”
That’s where Susan Rice got the claim about the spontaneous demonstration. Four days after this fact became clear, Chris Matthews—he’s paid $5 million per year—showed no sign of knowing.
Matthews kept agreeing that Rice had grossly misled the public. He simply tried to establish the fact that Obama didn’t tell her to do it. He showed no sign of knowing the most basic facts. As always, he was feckless, malfeasant—grotesquely unprepared.
In any other walk of life, a person who fails so badly and so carelessly will be quickly fired. But Matthews lives within two worlds from which it’s quite hard to get fired.
First, he’s a multimillionaire star of America’s corporate “press corps.” You can’t get fired from this group for being wrong. (On occasion, you will get fired if you dare to be right.)
Beyond that, Matthews is now a star of the corporate pseudo-liberal world, a world which has spent the past twenty years behaving in this manner.
That’s right, children! The liberal world has spent the past twenty years refusing to defend its own. In this case, Rice has been thrown down the stairs by a wide range of corporate luminaries—by Matthews, by Rachel, by Lawrence, by Al, by the younger Chris.
It has always been clear that Rice did nothing wrong when she appeared on those Sunday shows on September 16. (In two separate statements to Turner, Matthews seemed to suggest that she had done Meet the Press alone. Given his track record, it’s entirely possible that he was really that ignorant.) But last fall, as the war against Rice unfolded, the children on The One True Channel all ran off and hid.
For two solid months, as Rice was battered, her name quite literally wasn’t mentioned on The One True Liberal Channel! This Monday night, the steady malfeasance of this channel’s hosts only continued.
Matthews seemed completely ignorant of the most basic facts of the case. When Lawrence tried to discuss the case, he was equally worthless.
Lawrence spoke with the equally clueless Nia-Malika Henderson. For unknown reasons, he kept referring to the now-famous anti-Muslim video as “the movie:”
O’DONNELL (5/13/13): You know, the so-called talking points issue of this memo about what it was really about, I for one thought the talking points were ridiculous when I heard them.Like Chris, Lawrence seemed to have no idea what he was talking about. No one on Fox ever said that that attack in Benghazi was about “the movie.” Rice’s statements about the video were mischaracterized on Fox, then ridiculed, from the first day forward.
O’DONNELL: I never believed the movie was the provocation for this. I never allowed it—I never said on this show the movie did this.
O’DONNELL: And for the first several days, everybody on all of the shows, Fox shows were saying it is the movie, it is the movie. The movie thing never made sense to me.
So you can talk about the talking points, and that does become just, “OK, these are the people that put it together, why did they put it together?” That doesn`t seem to be worthy of this much investigation but fine, let them have it.
Like Chris, Lawrence failed to explain why Rice had mentioned the video on those Sunday programs. His analysis: When Fox screams and yells about the talking points, we should “let them have it!”
We won’t even tell you how useless, how ridiculous, Al Sharpton was on this point Monday night. Suffice to say that no one on The One True Channel ever explained what the world had learned four days before:
No one explained that Rice had described a spontaneous protest in reaction to Cairo because that’s what the CIA said it believed. No one bothered defending Rice. In the high-pay career liberal world, such things simply aren’t done.
Tomorrow, we will ask you why this has gone on so long—and why liberals are prepared to accept this. We’ll also briefly review the performances of Rachel, Melissa and Chris the younger.
But make no mistake: It has been like this for twenty years! Bogus attacks emerge from the right; liberal journalists run off and hide.
“Let them have it,” our corporate stars say. “Fair enough,” another will cry. Rising young players like Nia-Malika agree with every word.
George Bush got to the White House this way. Some things never change.
Take the Matthews-Turner Challenge: Go ahead! Knowing the things you do, watch that gruesome segment from Hardball.
Matthews is paid $5 million per year. But go ahead—watch! We dare you.
One more shining moment: In a tribute to Rodney King, we all got along on Monday night. We all agreed that Susan Rice deceived the American people!
In our original post, we should have included this gruesome moment, in which Matthews threw Rice down the stairs:
TURNER (5/13/13): Chris, you at least agree with me that what Susan Rice said was a fiction. Do we agree there? It's a fiction.Can't we all get along? For one brief shining moment, on Monday evening we did!
MATTHEWS: Yes, I've agreed with you five times and I continue to ask you the simple question, what role did the president play here? What role did he play, sir?
For twenty years, the game has been played this way. We liberals just sit there and take it.
Does anyone know why this is?