THE PRESS CORPS [HEART] ACCUSERS: Recalling what Chris Matthews once did!


Part 2—He almost got somebody killed: As a matter of theory, journalists aren’t supposed to fall in love with accusers.

In theory, journalists are supposed to be appropriately skeptical of the claims of accusers. That’s the theory you will encounter in eighth-grade civics texts.

Often, though, those who play journalists on TV fall in love with accusers—though it all depends on who the accusers are accusing, and on what they’re accusing them of.

Back in May 1999, one of our most prominent “cable news” pseudo-journalists almost got somebody killed. It happened because of an accusation which was demonstrably false—an accusation he put in the mouth of perhaps his most treasured accuser.

The pseudo-journalist in question was Chris Matthews. The accuser he so deeply loved was the fair lady Kathleen Willey, who had been raised by “shanty Irish” (her term) in Matthews’ own Philadelphia.

Throughout her adult life, the fair lady’s nickname was “Irish.” We’re going to guess this played a role in Matthews’ bizarre love affair.

Amazingly, Matthews is still a “cable news” host. That said:

After failing to get this first person killed, Matthews worked to trigger death threats against a nuclear physicist. And over the course of two years, he worked hard to send George Bush to the White House, trumpeting endless sets of absurd accusations against Candidate Gore, AKA “the bathtub ring.”

In the end, this heinous conduct led to the deaths of tens of thousands of people worldwide. Once this worldwide killing began, Matthews stood bravely against it. (Ownership of his cable “news channel” had changed by that point in time.)

Last night, Matthews was still playing the fool on your TV machine, although he’s now in love with a different brand of accuser. (For details of last night’s performance, see our next post.) As the frauds and the hacks on his cable channel continue to clown for us rubes every night, we thought it might be worth recalling some of the problems which can occur when pseudo-journalists go on TV and stage love affairs with accusers.

This is what happened back then:

By the spring on 1999, the mainstream press and its cable Potemkins were deeply in love with a certain group of accusers.

That May, Matthews almost got somebody killed. In a way, the dangerous incident he triggered was “all in the family.”

On Wednesday, May 20, Allen Lengel’s initial news report appeared in the Washington Post. Headline included, this is the way Lengel started:
LENGEL (5/20/99): Brother of Patrick Buchanan Faces a Gun Charge in D.C. Incident

The older brother of presidential candidate Patrick J. Buchanan is facing a charge of assault with a dangerous weapon after allegedly brandishing a gun at a Northwest Washington home owned by a relative of a top State Department official, relatives said yesterday.

Hank Buchanan, 61, is expected to surrender to police within a few days, his brother Tom Buchanan, 45, a lawyer, said last night. Tom Buchanan added that he understood that a warrant had been issued for his brother's arrest.


The allegation stems from an incident Sunday [May 17] in which an intruder broke into the garage of Cody Shearer, a freelance journalist and brother-in-law of Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, Buchanan's relatives confirmed.

The intruder slashed the car tires and, when confronted by two house guests, “brandished a handgun” before fleeing to a parked car,
according to a statement issued by Shearer's attorney, William J. Murphy. Shearer turned the license plate number over to police.
According to family members, Hank Buchanan had a long history of mental illness. Presumably, this helps explain his conduct.

To this day, no one has tried to explain the triggering conduct by Matthews, who is still frothing and dissembling on his “cable news” channel each night.

(He’s assisted by Howard, David and Joan, his most devoted caregivers.)

By the time Lengel’s report appeared, Buchanan had checked himself into a hospital for treatment. As the reporting became more clear, so did Buchanan’s conduct.

Two days later, Lengel provided more detail about what Hank Buchanan had done at the home of Cody Shearer—triggered by the conduct of Matthews, a real accuser-lover. This is the best link we can find:
LENGEL (5/22/99): According to a court affidavit, Buchanan was lurking in the alley near a car parked in Shearer's garage about 1 p.m. Sunday. A house guest came out and confronted Buchanan. As she walked past the garage, the guest heard air seeping from the car tires and ran back in the house to get her boyfriend. In the meantime, a neighbor who was taking out the trash confronted Buchanan, the affidavit said.

According to authorities, Buchanan pulled a silver-colored revolver from his pocket, pointed the gun at the man and demanded that he walk off. The man complied.

When the woman returned with her boyfriend, Buchanan pointed the gun at them and ordered them to walk away, the affidavit said.

Authorities said Buchanan then ran to a parked 1996 Honda and drove off.
Buchanan didn’t encounter Shearer, at whose home this conduct occurred. Perhaps for that reason, no one was injured or killed.

As noted, Buchanan’s history of mental illness may have explained his conduct. But the incident stemmed from “journalistic” conduct by Matthews which was similarly outrageous and bizarre.

During this general period, Matthews displayed Big Love for all accusers peddling tales about Clinton, Clinton or Gore, no matter how absurd, or even demonstrably false, their accusations might be.

In this particular incident, Matthews’ behavior had been heinous, bizarre, appalling. All too predictably, he wasn’t disciplined by NBC News or its cable arm, let alone kicked down the stairs.

Matthews continued peddling accusers’ tales even after this frightening incident. Within weeks, a Chinese-American nuclear physicist was receiving death threats, even as Matthews peddled reckless, wildly embellished claims about him.

Matthews’ abiding love for accusers produced endless journalistic misconduct in the two years which followed. Examples:

That August, Matthews brought a beloved accuser, Gennifer Flowers, onto the air for a full half hour. While there, she accused the Clintons of a wide array of murders as Matthews praised her for being so smokin’ hot.

(Matthews to Flowers: “I gotta pay a little tribute here. You’re a very beautiful woman, and I, and I have to tell you, he knows that, you know that, and everybody watching knows that. Hillary Clinton knows that. How can a woman put up with a relationship between her husband and somebody, anybody, but especially somebody like you that’s a knockout? I don’t quite get this relationship...It’s an objective statement, Gennifer. I’m not flirting. So let’s go on.” See note below.)

By that fall, Matthews was reciting endless accusations about Candidate Gore. He maintained this practice from March 1999 right through the November 2000 election, thus sending George Bush to the White House.

(According to press reports, Matthews’ salary went from $1 million to $5 million during this period. At that time, he was being paid by his conservative Republican owner, Nantucket’s “Ole Massa,” Jack Welch.)

During these years, the “liberal” world just sat there and took this. Today, career “liberal” writers still refuse to discuss it. (As the years passed, some of these strangely silent liberals became cable TV stars on Matthews’ clownworthy show.)

In the incident at Cody Shearer’s home, Hank Buchanan was said to be mentally ill. Repeatedly, Matthews behaved as if he too were so afflicted, as of course he may be.

But a code of silence was in effect, a code which still exists today. A few brave journalists challenged his conduct with regard to Shearer, though no one did so aggressively enough.

Everyone else looked away.

Today, Matthews is praised as the “beloved colleague” of Rachel Maddow. In our view, Maddow has also been betraying a bit too much love for accusers, perhaps in service to the corporate employers who have apparently made her just as wealthy as Matthews.

In our view, these are deeply compromised people. In even a dimly rational world, liberals and progressives would be skeptical of people who are paid millions of dollars by corporate entities to attract eyeballs to cable.

We don’t live in that kind of world. We live in a world peopled by us ditto-heads.

Don’t get us wrong—accusers are often right in their accusations! In the current high-profile case, it’s entirely likely that we will learn that members of the Christie administration engaged in deliberate misconduct in the case of the traffic lane closings in Fort Lee.

We may learn that from the ongoing investigations, or even from some journalist somewhere. In the meantime, many people are being accused on cable TV entertainment programs in very casual ways.

Matthews almost got somebody killed that way. (Later, Nancy Grace actually did.) Tomorrow, we’ll describe the astonishing way Matthews triggered Hank Buchanan’s extremely dangerous conduct.

Today, the ridiculous fellow is still on the air, frothing, dissembling and clowning each night. Two questions:

Why do you think that is? And what can we say about a culture which regards these events as the norm?

Tomorrow: When Matthews interviewed Willey, he engaged in astounding misconduct

Just for the sake of the record: The evidence strongly suggests that there was no “relationship” between Flowers and Bill Clinton. Before she started listing the Clintons’ many murders, Flowers had offered a wide array of demonstrably false statements about the alleged affair and about other matters.

As of 1999, that made her the perfect accuser for cable. Matthews is still on cable today. He’s Maddow’s “beloved colleague.”


  1. Let me ask you this, Somerby.

    If a mentally ill person reads some of the hateful things you have said about Rachel Maddow, then makes an attempt on her life (God forbid!), are you responsible?

    1. There have been rulings about the extent to which journalists are responsible for inciting hate. There is also legal jeopardy and moral jeopardy and the two are not identical.

      It would be interesting if you trolls would try to explain the ways in which what Somerby says about Maddow are false accusations. There is a clear responsibility for journalists to determine whether the accusations are supported by evidence, and that is what this post asks for, not a stop to all accusers. You do see the difference between complaining about someone's shoddy work and accusing them of something heinous that they did not do?

    2. Again, not even a clever dodge. Try answering the question directly.

      And here is another one. At what point are people responsible for their own actions? In Bob's World, they are never held responsible as long as there is an MSNBC host (and in this case, a CNBC host) to blame.

      This case is an extremely sad one, and involves a mentally ill person. That Bob would, several years later, continue to wield it as a weapon against a TV talk show host that he obviously despises tells us more about Somerby than about Matthews.

    3. The answer is no.

      There is nothing Somerby has said about Maddow that would lead to a mentally ill person committing violence against Maddow.

      There is a great deal more evidence at this site of people obsessed with harming Somerby than those who complain about or wish to harm Maddow. Most people here discuss what Maddow said and how she said it, but all the hate expressed here is aimed at Somerby, generally by people with no interest in discussing anything substantive.

      I am not trying to be clever or dodge anything. You are the person who is insisting I supply another answer when you didn't like the first one you received.

    4. That for you the problem is Somerby's again pointing out Matthews indefensible conduct (or are you going to even attempt to defend it?) rather than Matthew's conduct itself tells us a great deal about you.

      Whether Somerby "despises" the despicable Matthews is hardly relevant.

      You're here to pretend despising the despicable behavior is a bigger problem than the despicable behavior itself.

      As you would say: not even clever; sad.

    5. "There is nothing Somerby has said about Maddow that would lead to a mentally ill person committing violence against Maddow."

      Such a ridiculous statement on its face.

      So you are an expert in how mentally ill people react to hate speech?

      And do I really need to go through the "incomparable archives" to find the hate speech?

      Or should I merely ask you, the expert on mentally ill behavior, to identify exactly what Matthews said to set off Hank Buchanan and no one else?

    6. There is no logic to what a mentally ill person incorporates into a delusional system and no direct way of predicting what action might occur as a result. If there were, we could better predict and protect people from violent behavior (which is statistically infrequent among mentally ill people).

      If a public figure says something mistaken about a non-public person and that results in someone attacking them, that seems like an act for which the public figure ought to be held accountable.

      I don't know the facts of the Buchanan situation. I assume Somerby will talk about it tomorrow. In Maddow's case, she is a public figure and she makes herself highly visible every evening, without any help from Somerby. Any criticism he offers of her performance is not incitement nor hate speech and it would be unlikely to be the reason why a mentally ill person might attack her.

  2. One definition of rambling:

    1. (of writing or speech) lengthy and confused or inconsequential

  3. More mendacity from the warped mind and yellow fingernails of the blighted and bearded blogger. His lies pile up as the few people left who actually read and believe his sad attempts at making a point stupidly lap up every word like hungry alley strays. It's a joke. The commenters here have destroyed Bob's every word. They have proven that he is wrong. Progressive media, most importantly Maddow, are doing a bang up job - advancing progressive interests and covering the most important stories with the highest of journalistic integrity.

    1. Digby (via Chris Mooney) has an interesting post up about the psychology of trolls. She cites a report that has found that trolls are high in traits such as narcissism, psychopathy, Machiavellianism (not a good thing) and sadism. Here is a perfect example.

    2. Maybe they're just pranksters.

    3. Ie being sarcastic.

    4. I have no doubt they believe they are doing something harmless or cute, or some other self-serving description. The fact remains that they are being anti-social by disrupting discussion, attracting attention to themselves and their agenda, and annoying others (or worse, bullying or saying deliberately hurtful things, as in the comment above which refers to this blogger in some typically ugly ways).

    5. Did the study look at psychological characteristics of people who fear internet comment trolls. I'd read the study 11:46 linked but I spent my last $39.95 on a paper examining the relationship between watching local children's television programming in the 1950-69
      period and latent pedophelia.

    6. I see that the tribe has identified the other tribe and has sharpened their sticks. Let the pig hunt begin.

    7. I guess there's nothing you can do about them. They're just a part of life. You have to sit there and take it or not read comments.

    8. (OMB) Who here delights in alliteration more than
      ourselves and the other propagator of plural prose?


    9. You can get a copy of the study from your local library via interlibrary loan, or from a nearby university library who will have a subscription to the journal (online).

      No one fears internet trolls. They dislike them. In real life, people who cannot conform their behavior to norms are not ignored -- they wind up in prison, ostracized or marginalized, or in hospitals. There is certainly something that can be done about trolls -- Somerby apparently doesn't want to bother doing it here. It doesn't make trolling OK, normal, or a natural part of life.

    10. "Did the study look at psychological characteristics of people who fear internet comment trolls."

      I would also be interested in a study of the psychological characteristics of people who get some sort of satisfaction from calling other people "trolls."

      Is this some sort of avoidance of the issues before them that would cause cognitive dissonance if not avoided altogether?

      Is it there way of "winning" an argument without presenting a case?

      Or does merely citing studies that they haven't read, but only read about on a blog allow them to convince themselves that they are more intelligent than they actually are?

    11. "In real life, people who cannot conform their behavior to norms are not ignored -- they wind up in prison, ostracized or marginalized, or in hospitals."

      But on a blog, which should never be confused with "real life",. who gets to decide the "norms"?


    12. How about the study that related troll behavior back to a set of personality traits characterized by lack of empathy and inability to treat people as anything other than instruments of self-interes? They must have operationalized troll behavior in order to relate trolling to their other measures.

      Here, I would catalog it as: (1) focus on attacking Somerby himself rather than anything he says, (2) focus on attacking other commenters, (3) use of disgusting or hurtful language ("bone-gnawer" for example), (4) introduction of nonsensical, irrelevant, meaningless, repetitive or autistic comments that fail to engage other activity at the site, (5) unwillingness to stop despite repeated feedback that such commenting is annoying others.

      If trolls are disrupting commenting to the point where only trolls are present, their behavior may be a statistical norm (because most frequent) but it would not represent normal discussion at a website in the sense of social norms. Social norms in cyberspace are also based on pragmatics of discussion in real life (albeit modified). To see this, imagine if any of the conversations here were spoken by people face-to-face. At what point would a person become annoyed or frustrated and walk away? That should tell you what is normative.

      Blogs are certainly real life. They are not off-line life. If you think cyberspace is not real, try convincing your bank you didn't make an online transfer because cyberspace isn't real.

    13. I guess that I don't understand why everyone can't agree with Bob, and it saddens me.

    14. Such a bang up job that you cannot tolerate bob's dissent. So very typical of you "progressives" who are Stalinists at heart.

  4. Just for the 'sake of record' : " President Bill Clinton in sworn testimony has acknowledged he had a sexual relationship with Gennifer Flowers during his tenure as Arkansas governor, something he flatly denied in the 1992 presidential campaign, sources have told CNN."

    1. He has admitted having a sexual encounter with her but not a relationship and certainly not one lasting 10 years, as Flowers claimed.

  5. Sigh.

    Yes, Chris Matthews is a stooge. A well-paid stooge who loves to hear himself talk.

    And yes, Matthews is not a very good journalist, if that's even a proper word by which to describe him.

    And oh my yes, Bill Clinton was known to dally with women who were not his wife. And, of course, there were plenty of conservative critics who castigated Clinton for his cavorting while they were engaged in their own conjugal shenanigans. Bill O'Reilly, for example (what a dirty boy he is):

    And yeah, Matthews is still hosting a TV show. So is O'Reilly. Gingrich still plays at wanting to be president (can you imagine?). George W. Bush WAS president. For TWO terms.

    Only in America.

    And who's really to blame? Nitwits like the above-mentioned don't help, but it's the voters who often fail to do due diligence.

    1. I tried to do due diligence in 2000 but I found those suits quite off putting and the talks with the bald spot reminded me of Nixon during Watergate. In the end it came down to who I would really rather have a beer with.
      I don't drink so I didn't vote. I still can't sleep at night thinking of the bombs falling on Iraq and the drowning sould in New Orleans.

  6. I would have sworn that I put this question in here before, but where is the action by Matthews that triggered the behavior of Buchanan?