Our own leading turkey takes flight: With the gatekeepers gone, we're learning what we the people have presumably always been like.
When the major political parties were in the hands of elite gatekeepers, potential candidates like Candidate Trump weren't allowed into the mix.
Now, we pick our candidates almost wholly through primaries. With media gatekeepers gone as well, we're learning that there's a pretty good market for a hopeful like Trump.
Over here in our liberal tents, we can see the many misstatements of a person like Trump. We can't see the way we love our own brand of dissembling, most of which currently turns on matters of gender and race.
Over in the conservative tents, they can see this about us. They're told about it every day. Much of what they're being told is, alas, perfectly accurate.
There's something else we liberals can't see. We can't see how dumb we liberals have been for all these countless years.
We can see that The Others are dumb. We can't spot the trait in ourselves.
How dumb have we been for all these years? Last Friday night, the biggest turkey of them all took wing and flew again.
Chris Matthews was hosting a panel which included Eliana Johnson, Washington editor for the National Review. A bit of background on Johnson:
She graduated from Yale in 2006; she joined the National Review in 2012. In the interim, she spent three years as a segment producer for Sean Hannity at Fox.
Three years producing segments for Sean? Journalistically, that's a horrible background. Having offered that word of warning, let's return to last Friday's Hardball.
At one point, Matthews asked Johnson why so many conservatives say that Obama's a Muslim. The turkey was soon in the air.
As any Hannity droog would do, Johnson quickly recited the standard canard concerning Candidate Clinton. And good God! Matthews quickly affirmed and embellished Johnson's claim. He then tossed in an older canard concerning Candidate Gore!
With apologies, we haven't been able to compare the transcript of Friday's Hardball program to videotape. The tape of the horrible segment in question doesn't appear at the Hardball site.
That said, the transcript seems to provide a reasonably faithful version of the exchange, which we watched several times at the end of last week. What are we the people actually like? The exchange offers a taste of the journalistic inventions of the past twenty years.
We start with the canard about Candidate Clinton. Here's what happened when Matthews asked why Republican voters keep saying Obama's a Muslim:
MATTHEWS (11/20/15): Why do people keep saying that, Eliana? They do they keep telling pollsters that?We hate to spoil the party, but Clinton didn't "first put out there about Obama being a Muslim." By way of contrast, Candidate Trump spent several years broadcasting versions of this canard in every possible forum.
JOHNSON: Well, I have to say, I do think it's amusing that it's Hillary Clinton, it's the Clintons who first put this out there about Obama being a Muslim.
MATTHEWS: Why did she do it?
JOHNSON: I think because it's a pretty effective way, when you start to question whether somebody is American in their origin.
MATTHEWS: Do you think that's an American thing to do?
JOHNSON: No, I don't. I think it's an abominable campaign tactic. But I do think it's worth it to remember that it was, in 2007, the Clintons who did this.
MATTHEWS: I know. It's their original sin.
JOHNSON: The dirtiest campaign in the country.
Despite this minor problem, Matthews didn't simply agree with Johnson's mandated canard. He actually added to her claim, calling this action-which-didn't-occur the Clintons' "original sin."
The Clintons' conduct was un-American, our number-one turkey intoned.
Surely, that would have been awful enough. But this particular corporate gobbler wasn't finished yet:
MATTHEWS (continuing directly): Jeanne, if you name it on this— I know it was Al Gore who used the Willie Horton—Good God! After playing the old Clinton-called-Obama-a-Muslim card, Matthews even reached all the way back. He repeated the pitiful RNC claim that it was really Candidate Gore who invented the ugly, racialized mess concerning Willie Horton.
MATTHEWS: We know that history.
MATTHEWS: Why is that funny? It's terrible.
(In real time, no one pimped that line more than Hannity, though this was before Johnson's time. Last Friday, Chris helped the horrible Johnson out, reciting this old canard for her.)
Can we talk? In the realm of "cable news," Matthews is the original Trump. He was Trump before Donald Trump was a gleam in cable's eye.
At the time, Matthews was being made extremely rich by his corporate owner, conservative zillionaire Jack Welch. He played the Trump role for many years with his crazy Clinton/Gore-hating misstatements.
The liberal world just sat there and took it. E.J. Dionne? Lawrence O'Donnell? They both agreed not to notice. Today, they're on MSNBC!
At this point, we the liberals can actually see that Trump is making crazy, inaccurate, harmful misstatements. Because he's in the GOP, we're able to see it and say it.
We were too dumb and ineffective to ever react to Matthews. We still can't bring ourselves to understand the way our favorite liberal media stars have covered for his appalling conduct every step of the way.
Today, we watch Chris on our own One True Channel; we see our darling Rachel fawn about how much she loves and admires the man she calls her dear friend. He still says things like the ones shown above. We're too hopeless and soft to react.
Why does our tribe favor Matthews today? Because he gives us the R-bombs we deeply love—the R-bombs we seem to love more than life itself. We're inclined to ask nothing more from our "intellectual leaders."
Those R-bombs are our own tribe's version of Donald Trump's Syrian/Muslim slanders. They convince us that The Very Bad People can all be found Over There. In all of human history, tribal groups have rarely asked for much more.
("Moral equivalence," we liberals will cry. Like people who swallow Hannity-Johnson's guff, we liberals know three or four plays.)
We can see what They are doing. It's harder for us to see the truth about the multimillionaire corporate turkeys who have been assigned to Us down through these many destructive and deeply ridiculous years.
He knows from un-American: Matthews knows all about un-American.
In the wake of 9/11, he shared these thoughts about ex-candidate Gore with Don Imus, who was extremely influential at the time:
"He doesn’t look like one of us. He doesn’t seem very American, even."
Yes, he actually said it! He said it on Imus' radio show, which was still being simulcast on MSNBC at that time.
We liberals just sat there and took it. For the record, Christopher Matthews was still Donald Trump at that point in time.
Imus was in rare form that morning (November 2, 2001). For a fuller account of his thoughtful remarks, just click here, then scroll to The Daily Update.
We've accepted this crap every step of the way. Who in the name of creation are we to mock the gullible average voters in the other tribe?