OUR OWN TEAM’S STUFF KEEPS HAPPENING TOO: Chris Matthews, with a surprise inside!


Part 4—Contempt for our own voters too:
If our elites were capable of such states, we’d say that Ryan Lizza embarrassed himself last Friday.

We’d say that Charles Blow was still playing the same silly game three days later. But then, what else is new?

Is it true? Did Jeb Bush callously dismiss the Oregon shootings by callously saying, “Stuff happens?” If we want to be fair, if we want to be honest, well no, he pretty much didn’t.

But then, who wants to be honest or fair within our own devolving tribe? It’s more fun to be dull-witted and lazy—to play the role of adepts and priests in The Cult of the Offhand Comment.

For our money, Bush offered a soft, even slightly dishonest statement about the Oregon shootings. He couldn’t seem to imagine a single thing the Congress could do in response!

It ought to be easy to show the public the slippery dishonesty of that presentation, which was echoed by other Republican candidates. But so what? It’s more fun to cadge a two-word quotation which shows us how callous The Other Tribe is—and in truth, we liberals don’t bother with the public too much at this point.

Do we perhaps have contempt for the public? Consider something which occurred just last evening, on Hardball.

Surrounded by an obedient panel, Chris Matthews played videotape of a focus group in New Hampshire. Some of what happened next was surprising. Some of what happened next wasn’t.

First, the part which wasn’t surprising. After playing some tape of the focus group, Matthews openly mocked them. To watch the whole segment, click here:
MATTHEWS (10/7/15): I don’t know what you make of that. I don’t make anything of it.

Time now for the Hardball roundtable. We have a smarter roundtable here than there, I can tell you that!


Carol Lee is White House correspondent for the Wall Street Journal. David Corn is Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones and Francesca Chambers is the White House correspondent for the Daily Mail.

David, it reminds me of what Winston Churchill. The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter. I don’t know how much thought those people put into it or why we should listen to them. What did you get out of it, the focus group here?
The panelists poked at the focus group. Eventually, Matthews added this assessment:

“By the way, they may have been a random group, but they certainly weren’t randy. That was the dullest looking group of people! Did you have to wake me up for this?”

Matthews’ undisguised contempt shouldn’t be all that surprising. Night after night, viewers of cable programs like Hardball see panels of pundits expressing their own deathless views about the latest meaningless bumps in the latest meaningless polls.

Such programs virtually never interview voters in an attempt to understand the way the world looks to them. We’re often struck by this lack of curiosity, especially at this peculiar time.

What makes this era peculiar? For better or worse, we live at a time when all the gatekeepers are gone—gatekeepers in the press corps and in our political parties.

We no longer have Walter and David to shield us from hearing crazy ideas on the evening news. Indeed, the promulgation of crazy ideas is a major industry now—on talk radio, on cable news and all across the web.

People are selling us crazy ideas twenty-hours a day now! Meanwhile, the gatekeepers in the two major parties are increasingly absent too.

This year, we’re seeing where the loss of those political gatekeepers leads. At present, the Republican race is dominated by candidates who would have died in the “smoke-filled rooms” where party elders once picked our candidates for us.

Under the old regime, these candidates wouldn’t have been allowed to enter the game. This year, they’ve been offering crazy-seeming ideas too, like talk and cable before them.

As these cultural changes hold sway, our electorate increasingly boasts strange ideas and beliefs.

According to a survey in late August, 66 percent of Trump supporters believe Obama is a Muslim. Only 21 percent of Trump supporters said the president was born in this country.

Why do voters believe such things? We’re often struck by the fact that cable news programs don’t bother to seek them out and ask! Has any show on MSNBC ever interviewed Republican voters to ask about these and other views? We’re often amazed by our tribe’s insularity—our lack of curiosity, the lack of an instinct toward outreach.

In this context, it was hardly surprising when Matthews mocked those voters in that focus group. According to the cable star, they were the dullest looking group of people—an argument against democracy.

He didn’t know why we should listen to them! For reasons at which we can only guess, he said his own panel was brighter.

Truly, it shouldn’t have been surprising to see Matthews mocking those voters. If you’ve watched the Maddow Show down through the years, you’ve been exposed to the landlocked contempt we “liberals” sometimes aim at the unclean and unwashed.

Here’s the part which may seem surprising—the focus group Matthews mocked last night was composed of Democratic voters! If we might adapt the old movie line, this is the way we treat people we like! On-line, you’ve surely seen the scorn we direct toward those in The Other Tribe.

Later in last night’s panel segment, Matthews also rolled his eyes at some Republican voters, specifically citing their crazy attitudes about guns. In our view, some crazy ideas about guns have been floating around for a very long time, along with ideas which aren't crazy. But this was clueless too:
MATTHEWS: In an interview with USA Today, Dr. Carson said gun control is the first step towards tyranny...So he actually is suggesting, Francesca, that there’s somebody in Washington or somewhere who’s trying to collect all the guns so they can create a tyranny. Who would that person be? Or even conceptually, where is this happening?
Matthews went on from there.

A lot of crazy ideas about guns have floated around through the years. With the rise of talk radio, cable TV and the web, it’s easier to spread these ideas.

On the other hand, where might a voter get the idea that someone might want to take their guns? In the week since the Oregon killings, any number of liberals, from Obama on down, have cited Australia and Great Britain as models in the realm of gun safety.

Conservatives are being told that those countries outlawed guns, a claim which isn’t totally wrong. At any rate, you won’t see liberals engaging in outreach on this key tribal matter. Rather than interview conservative voters, Matthews will simply mock them on TV with the help of his three pundit slaves.

The notion of outreach—it’s admittedly hard—will occur to few of our spotless minds. Last night, no one on the Matthews panel answered the question he asked about guns.

Where are they getting their crazy ideas? No one attempted to say.

This very morning, the new Salon is letting us know that We are better with grammar than They are. Within our own glorious tribe, our bloated sense of self is large, but our outreach can be hard to find.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at what Rachel said. Why do we liberals accept this?

Tomorrow: She always loved Boehner!

Australia and Great Britain, grabbing guns: For one account, click here.


  1. Matthews is so desperate for a Biden win that he insults Democratic voters who rightly discern that Joe (!) brings nothing new to the table; and, then, Matthews opens his salad shooter to spew some idiotic theory that Biden can run as Obama's third term. He actually referred to Biden as a "minority candidate."
    Only a Beltway poobah like Matthews ignores the historical significance of the first viable woman candidate. This (and it's a biggie) and that she's the most capable and best prepared in the field is what Hillary brings to the table.
    As I said downstairs, if Tweety told me that I'm a woman, I'd pull down my pants to check.

    1. If he runs, Biden will be held accountable for his own actions prior to becoming VP. He will not be seen as an extension of Obama but as the guy who authored the anti-crime bills of the 80's, helped banks collect debts by limiting bankruptcy, and who denied Anita Hill redress in order to put Clarence Thomas on the supreme court. Obama didn't listen when Biden argued against going after Bin Laden. No one is talking about his hands-on policy with women and girls, something I find repulsive and not at all a reflection of anything Obama has done. And now this cynical use of his son's death to gain sympathy -- yuck! None of that is typical of Obama or his two terms. Biden is on his own, in my opinion.

    2. @ 11:56

      "The president has indicated that his view that the decision that he made, I guess 7 years ago now, to add Joe Biden to the ticket as his running mate was the smartest decision that he has ever made in politics. And I think that should give you some sense into the president's view into Vice President's aptitude for the top job," Earnest said.

      If VP Biden is on his own it's news to POTUS Obama.

    3. @ Sweet Sue

      If it is paramount for women to ensure the next POTUS possesses an extra X chromosome they can vote for Carly. But good to see the Clintonistas in full Biden rage at the prospect of him entering the race.

    4. I guess Elizabeth Dole wasn't a viable woman. Or not a viable candidate?

    5. Dole was slightly less viable than Michelle Bachman since she had never before run for office.

    6. My very bad: Dole was so ineffectual I completely forgot that she was a US Senator!

    7. Dole was in second place in the polls at this point in the 2000 race. She was a two time cabinet secretary as well as a Senator.

    8. When I say viable I mean could get elected which is why I distinguished it from well qualified.

    9. Having Obama's endorsement might be a liability to Biden.

    10. Garnett "those Irish" Shuan-czinOctober 9, 2015 at 1:24 AM

      Having fender skirts might prevent wheel-well mud accumulation.

      Point? Like @ 3:331 PM, there is none.

  2. It is one thing to argue that we shouldn't direct scorn toward people who hold different beliefs than we do. Directing scorn toward voters of either party does seem like a self-defeating stance for a candidate -- but I haven't seen any candidate except Trump doing that. So, I think this is a pundit stance. On the other hand, I think it is fully appropriate to treat trolls with scorn. They are people who are deliberately mocking others, interfering with discussion, and causing turmoil for pay or personal satisfaction. That is not deserving of respect or tolerance.

    I hold a deep and abiding contempt for anyone who deliberately interferes with the open discussion of ideas necessary to sustain our democracy. Absent moderation, our contempt is the only way to discourage people who wish to sabotage democratic (note small d) debate in our society.

    1. There’s little reason for people to like us. Presumably, nobody does.

    2. Being liked isn't everything.

    3. We're likeable enough.

    4. "We're likeable enough."

      That would be you and the gopher in your pocket.

  3. As Bill Clinton used to say, "There's no problem created by democracy that can't be solved with even more democracy." (Fruitless mild attempts to Google verbatim quote were abandoned.)

    That sounds great when speaking to multitudes. But Howler shows how it ain't always the case. The very Constitution is one grand gatekeepers document.

    I suppos it's like that other superstitious belief some have about lassez-faire capitalism. It's good for some things but not so good for others.

    We need the political equivalent of a Richard Dawkins and a Lawrence Krauss to steer us away from the more "religious" (i.e. superstitious, magical, metaphysical, faith-based) aspects of Americanism.

    And as the nation progresses further and further toward this great awakening, more and more Americans will come to agree with me. Give people all the freedom they can handle, but no more.

  4. Rep. Kevin McCarthy Drops Out of House Speaker Race

    In other news, GOP credits HRC's McCarthy Benghazi commercials for saving them from electing a nitwit as house speaker.

    1. Nitwit to remain as House Republican Majority Leader.

      You must be very proud, I've heard mob guys from Jersey with a better command of the English language.

    2. @mm

      Your posts do reflect a Jersey Shore "JWoww" unconsciousness.

    3. October 8, 2015 at 7:18 PM - you forgot to zip up your fly.

  5. "For our money, Bush offered a soft, even slightly dishonest statement about the Oregon shootings. He couldn’t seem to imagine a single thing the Congress could do in response!"

    Gack. The oldish blogger seems to have allowed his own screws to loosen due to the vibrations from constantly accusing those in the media of having flapping fasteners.

    This is the fourth post launched by a tweet from Ryan Lizza in which Bob Somerby accuses the media of taking two words actually spoken and giving a false impression of what the poor beleaguered politician said.

    Clue for Bob defenders....what follows is a direct quote from Bush.

    "whenever you see a tragedy take place, the impulse in the political system, more often in the federal level, but also at the state level, is to “do something,” right?

    And what we end up doing lots of times is we create rules on the 99.999 percent of human activity that had nothing to do with the tragedy that forced the conversation about doing something.
    ... look, stuff happens, there’s always a crisis, and the impulse is always to do something, and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do."

    Bush did not "seem to imagine" nothing could be done. He said what has been done "lots of time" is "create rules" that take away rights. Once again Somerby does what he decries.

    The one who seems to keep imagining things is the blogger with the crying analysts he keeps quoting in his blog about the terrible novelizers in the American press.

    1. Yes, Somerby is much worse than Jeb Bush or anyone else he writes about -- except those people are running for office or hosting news shows or doing other highly visible, responsible jobs affecting many people, and Somerby is not. So why do you waste so much time attacking Somerby and spend no time at all addressing the important issues he raises here daily? You have a very distorted perspective about what is important.

    2. I'm a fan of Somerby's, but anon 1:29 has it right. I'm quite surprised Bob would soft-pedal such a statement. Unless...

      Maybe the clip I saw was more than one clip. I don't remember, but maybe two statements were taken out of context.

      But if they weren't, then Bob shouldn't have defended that in any way.

      But the rest of it was interesting.

    3. He didn't defend it.

    4. No, he didn't defend it. He just misrepresented it and, in attacking someone in multiple posts for leaving out quotes too long to tweet he left out things as well, like the questions Bush was responding to.

  6. Mathews, et al, are why Trump is so popular. He treats them with the same contempt and arrogance they have towards people outside their little circle.

  7. $$$!$!$THEE$ICKE$T$BURN$!$!$$$

    1:45 YOU$LAYEDAGAIN$$!

  8. Gatekeepers Wanted

    Bob Somerby Today

    "Such programs virtually never interview voters in an attempt to understand the way the world looks to them. We’re often struck by this lack of curiosity, especially at this peculiar time.

    Why do voters believe such things? We’re often struck by the fact that cable news programs don’t bother to seek them out and ask! Has any show on MSNBC ever interviewed Republican voters to ask about these and other views? We’re often amazed by our tribe’s insularity—our lack of curiosity, the lack of an instinct toward outreach."

    Bob Somerby Just 3 Weeks Ago
    (When the New York Times did just what Bob asked cable TV to do today)

    “A sampling of a dozen Iowans?” That’s actually what it said!

    Before succumbing to exhaustion, Gabriel had interviewed twelve voters! The analysts moped for the rest of the day, dismayed by what they had read.

    A dozen Iowans? Really?

    It’s always shaky, on its face, when reporters interview voters after events, recording their reactions. Whatever views such people express, their views are baldly anecdotal—anecdotal in the extreme.

    The hoary old practice is shaky enough when newspapers like the Times send teams of reporters out to speak to scores of people. But Gabriel said he spoke to twelve voters! Thirty-six hours post-debate, that was his grand total!"

    Bob Somerby. Holding the media in contempt for the hoary old practice of not seeking baldly anecdotal views....except when they don't.

    1. It's what you do with your data after you collect it that is wrong in the example Somerby spotlighted, not how many people were talked to. You cannot generalize and publish an article with a headline based on 12 people. That isn't any kind of poll or survey. Gabriel, I assume, was a reporter and not a polling expert. You can flesh out survey data with qualitative interviews or focus groups that go into answers in depth. But when you do that, you aren't trying to generalize back to a population (e.g., speak for all Democratic voters, for example). You are trying to better understand why people who responded a particular way, did so. The purpose of your data collection matters and dictates the methods used.

      When people go to college, they sometimes take a course in social science research and it teaches them these distinctions. You clearly don't understand how research is done, so you are quick to accuse Somerby of being inconsistent, on the basis of your own ignorance. Perhaps there is a community college near you where you can learn more about this stuff?

      When you lack expertise, it is often better to express your confusion in the form of a question. You might ask "Why is it OK for Somerby to propose interviewing 12 people in depth while it was not OK for Gabriel to do so in Somerby's post last month?" If you did that, you wouldn't sound so inappropriately arrogant, you wouldn't be coming across as an ignorant troll, and you might learn something. It is called humility and respect for the knowledge of others, in this case Somerby. When you are perhaps the only person in the room who doesn't understand this distinction, it might save you embarrassment.

    2. @3:28,
      Yours was possibly the finest reply to a troll I've read on this or any other blog.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. 3:28, you see how easy and lazy it is to damn the press if they don't beat the bushes and interview real voters, then when they do damn them again when they didn't interview enough to suit you?

    5. At anon 3:28

      The key sentence in your posting is “You are trying to better understand why people who responded a particular way, did so.”

      At anon 2:15

      Walking the streets and interviewing random people doesn’t get to the root of why people believe the way they do.

      That’s what Bob was focusing on – why do they believe the crap they believe? Because they’ve often received their views on issues from the very pundits who are mocking them! And the the pundits’ views are, by-and-large, idiotic! The perfect circle that must not be exposed. Though Bob does it quite often.

      The idea that we’re manipulated by the media isn’t a theory, it’s a fact. Visiting this site now and then reassures me that there are some who are constantly monitoring this fact, and uncovering the fallacies behind them.

      While Bob has a specific focus, his reasoning applies across the board on any issue in the mainstream TV media.

      Any. Single. One

    6. "Walking the streets and interviewing random people doesn’t get to the root of why people believe the way they do."

      Oh I agree wholeheartedly. Now take it up with Somerby. He's the one who said the media should do more of that, and when they do, they didn't do enough.

      Or in your case, they didn't do it in a way that satisfies you.

      The old lazy game of shifting goal posts.

    7. Why is it OK for Somerby to attack the media for not asking people why they believe what they believe when he never asks reporters why they write what they write instead of telling his readers what they "seem" to say?

      Why is it OK to call someone a troll and lecture them on their comment when their comment was simply quotes?

      When people go to elementary school they generally learn that if you have a problem with what someone said, you address the accuracy of what they said, not what they quoted someone else as saying.

      BTW, @ 3:28, you missed the fact that my final sentence, which was the only sentnence of my own in my comment, I mistakently included the word "not". It should have read:

      Bob Somerby. Holding the media in contempt for the hoary old practice of seeking baldly anecdotal views....except when they don't."

      And since you are an expert in social science research, please explain the social scientific technique of someone who contantly generalizes what "we liberals" think and do.

    8. Being passive aggressive is an unattractive trait. You think quoting lets you avoid responsibility for your views. It doesn't.

      You shouldn't use words like generalize. It hurts my ears.

  9. You forgot to mention we're 14 years old too.

  10. O.K., at this point we liberals should take it as a complement. If the best Somerby can due in drawing attention to our inherent unfairness, how we are just like them, etc., is by bemoaning this statement by Bush which Somerby he all but admits was an accurate representation of what was said, we much be doing O.K. Clinton is jumping on it, which Somerby will probably says just goes to show She's a real meanie.
    Speaking of which, the NYT's Benghazi editorial brings up all kinds of interesting angles the good, OLD Daily Howler would have explored. But he doesn't seem to be able to get over poor little Jeb.

    1. If you don't take the high road, you leave yourself open to attack and you undermine your own credibility. That weakens you in a race with competent opponents. It is a bad idea to do the stuff Somerby typically complains about (including this) because it hurts our side.

    2. @ 5:29 PM = high tolerance for thinslicing for the greater good.

    3. Yes, Anonymous. It's always bad to fight hard for the things you believe in. It gives Bob the vapors.

  11. Dear sick burn - Soooooooplayed and tired. Come back in a few years.

  12. Sick burn is emulating his hero Bob Somerby. Repetitiveness is next to Holierthanthouedness.


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