Just this once, we’ll almost praise Matthews!


Hardball goes all Downton Abbey: Just this once, we’re going to let you ask us to praise Chris Matthews.

We’re also going to ask you to see where bad narratives come from.

Last night, in his opening segment, Matthews continued to speak in defense of Susan Rice. Two reliable colleagues, Wagner and Corn, echoed whatever he said.

This defense is happening much too late, which helps explain where this political problem came from. Beyond that, Matthews still doesn’t know what Rice said on the Sunday programs two years ago that got her in so much trouble.

When Rice appeared on those Sunday shows, she said the Benghazi attack may have been done by “al Qaeda itself.” Matthews still doesn’t seem to know that. But just this once, we’re going to praise him for the fact that this defense is occurring at all.

And not only that:

Early in last night’s segment, Matthews noted a gruesome fact about the American discourse. This is what he said as he introduced the twin echoes:
MATTHEWS (2/24/14): Why do John McCain and Darrell Issa and the rest keep yelling “Benghazi?” Why do they like to how much they respect Hillary Clinton, especially her work as secretary of state, and then continue to accuse her of cover-up, going AWOL in the face of the enemy and God knows what else?


Alex Wagner is the host of Now, weekdays at 4 Eastern on MSNBC, and she’s joining us right now. And David Corn is Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones and an MSNBC political analyst.

David, it is relentless. It’s continuing through this hour. We’re getting it all day because of what happened yesterday on Meet the Press...
In a very rare occurrence, Matthews noted the blizzard of propaganda which has followed Rice’s appearance on last weekend’s Meet the Press. Indeed, even as Hardball was airing last night, Greta van Susteren was pounding away at this topic on Fox, displaying the problem which lies at the heart of the modern American discourse:

The two warring tribes have completely different sets of facts about this topic! And our biggest newspapers and biggest news broadcasts work extremely hard to avoid addressing this recurrent problem, which virtually defines the modern discourse.

Two shows aired at 7 o’clock, hosted by Matthews and van Susteren. The programs advanced completely different sets of facts about what happened at Benghazi, and about what Rice said and did when she appeared on the five Sunday programs on September 16, 2012.

(Matthews only seems to know that she appeared on Meet the Press that day. He shows no sign knowing what she said on Face the Nation.)

Matthews’ defense last night was spirited, but it was happening much too late. The bogus narratives about Rice gained traction in the fall of 2012, in part because of the silence of the MSNBC lambs.

As the disinformation took shape about Rice, the children ran off and hid in the woods. Quite literally, Rice’s name wasn’t even mentioned on Rachel Maddow’s show until after that November’s election, when Obama finally piped up in Rice’s defense. Lawrence and Ed didn’t mention Rice either. She was mentioned on Hardball just once.

Until Obama gave the word, the lambs remained extremely quiet. The poisonous narrative Matthews was combatting last night developed, unopposed, during that cowardly time.

One other point:

Last night, Matthews cited the “exhaustive report” which appeared in the New York Times late last December about the Benghazi attack. His echoes echoed his comments.

None of the tribunes noted this fact—even in that gigantic report, the Times continued to misparaphrase Rice in a way which kept complaints about her alive. The paper even flatly misquoted something Rice said on those Sunday programs.

Neither Matthews nor his echoes mentioned this problem with the “exhaustive” Times report. Darlings, they were discussing the New York Times! It simply isn’t done!

This poisonous narrative grew out of silence. Even now, so many months later, our cable stars don’t want to fight a full fight.

Dearest darlings, careers are at stake! In our own version of Downton Abbey, certain things simply aren’t done!


  1. The silence has been on the left and is part of why the right can so effectively echo its message. There is nothing to challenge it when the left does not comment upon or defend the messages arising on the right. The silence was not the cries of Benghazi but the failure of left pundits to defend Rice. The noise on the right would not be as loud or as effective if there were loud and effective voices on the left challenging it.

  2. The truth is that Benghazi was a tremendous victory, because the right wing failed, utterly, to make it a viable issue. Mrs. Clinton especially should be proud of what the incident shows about her administrative ability. Of course, the loss of an ambassador and others is regrettable, but it's not like there was any provable neglect that can be directly tied to Hillary.

  3. That's like blaming the cat because you saw a mouse.

    You know why I think the right-wing echo chamber is so effective? Because there are quite a few people out there who seek simple answers to very complex situations. And they deliver.

    Do they want to hear the complicated series of events that led to the Benghazi tragedy, including the GOP Congress cutting funds for the defense of diplomatic compounds, or would they rather hear that Hillary and Obama sat on their rumps and refused to dispatch a battalion of Marines to defend it?

  4. Is the solution then for the left to concoct its own simple answers?

  5. An incoherent claim doesn’t come clear if you repeat it many times and say it even more loudly.

  6. OMB ( Is almost almost always the same?)

    BOB has already said enough about Matthews for a mentally ill person reading his blog to act in a manner similar to one Hank Buchanan. He was the man whom, BOB alleged, almost killed someone due to bad journalism by Matthews. Matthews, BOB further stated emphatically, went on to single handedly alter an election and thus cause tens of thousands to die. BOB named someone and alleged far worse than slashing tires and killing cats.

    Is the "almost" in praising the same as the "almost" in killing?


    1. I am also not sure that a definitive, direct link between what Matthews said and what Buchanan heard was ever established.

      Yes, Matthews was the first to blurt out the name "Cody Shearer." But then the right-wing echo chamber sprung into action. Shearer's vile tire-slashing became their lead story the very next day.

      El Rushbo himself spelled out the name S-H-E-A-R-E-R so his listeners wouldn't miss it.

      This could have indeed been tragic had another one of Limbaugh's incensed listeners rushed to the home of Harry Shearer.

      But then, we have been deprived of the years of Somerby accusing Matthews of "almost killing" both Cody and Harry.

    2. Allow us to almost defend BOB. And praise you!
      There indeed has not been proof Matthews's report
      was seen by Buchanan. Nor has it been journalistically disproven, we might add.

      Regardless of the source of the actual flame which lit the tinderbox brain of Mr. Buchanan several days after the Hardball episode, Matthews lit the match and Somerby was right to criticize that act, albeit nine days after the fact. He said his "analysts roared" when Matthews did the deed, but BOB was too busy listening to his inner Maureen Dowd ear to pay them quick mind.

      Of course in his initial report on the error BOB used Salon's reporting as his source for the error, not his own trained eyes and ears. Both Salon articles mentioned Rush and Drudge. BOB did not.


  7. "Is the solution then for the left to concoct its own simple answers?"

    Actually, this is a theme Somerby voices quite often, most recently in his recycled rant about Stephen Hawking, that dates back to the dawn of the millennium.

    We just need to explain things simply, and in language that even a perplexed Harvard grad can understand.

    It is also a theme in his many "Be nice to the Tea Party" folks. All they need is for "our side" to have things explained not just simply, but sweetly. Like Malala and King and Mandela did.