Chris Matthews, Luca Brasi and you: Long ago and far away, Hardball was a highly influential "cable news" program.
There was much less "cable news" back then. Hardball was one of a handful of "Washington insider" programs of record—one of a handful of programs which established the wording of the official standard group scripts.
Hardball is nowhere near that significant now. But last night, it achieved a bit of a score, in a bit of a throwback manner.
How did Hardball achieve its score? Stephanie Clifford's lawyer chose it as the setting for a bit of a preview!
We'll be honest—we regard Clifford's lawyer as a fairly obvious con man. Other people don't seem to react to him that way.
That said, the fact that we humans aren't skilled at spotting con men helps explain how con men can still exist. At any rate, the lawyer in question decided to play some Hardball last night.
Based on a Nexis search, it seems to be the only program on which the "smooth operator" chose to appear. While there, he previewed his client's upcoming appearance this Sunday night on a new episode of Anderson's Playpen.
On Thursday night, Anderson spoke with Karen McDougal for over an hour about all the twelve-year-old f**king and sex. Sunday's session in the Playpen promises to include an additional element:
The lawyer has told us that his client received a physical threat. For all her discussion of all that f**king, McDougal was able to provide no such excitement.
As a general matter, a physical threat is a criminal act. Did any such threat really occur? In our view, the lawyer chose a slightly odd venue for last evening's preview.
We say that because of what happened on Hardball on May 11, 1999 (and in the days which followed). On that evening, Matthews' fairly obvious darling, the faire Kathleen Willey, appeared on cable program-of-record to discuss a physical threat which, as it turned out, she had somehow dreamed up.
She claimed that journalist Cody Shearer had delivered this scary physical threat. She said it had scared her bleepless.
Unfortunately, she named the date on which Shearer engaged in this conduct, and he was quickly able to show that he had been three thousand miles away at the time of the deeply frightening, vile physical threat.
Concerning this dreamed-up threat, two things should be mentioned:
First point: Willey's false claim could have gotten Shearer killed. After the claim was broadcast on Hardball, a mentally ill man appeared at Shearer's Washington home with a gun, apparently hoping to kill him.
Keeping it all in the "cable news" family, the mentally ill man was Pat Buchanan's brother. In a move which was bad for cable news ratings, he was arrested before he could shoot anyone.
Second point: Willey's false claim could have gotten Shearer killed. That said, here's a second true fact about Willey's false claim:
When Willey appeared on Hardball that night, it was actually Matthews who blurted out Shearer's name, not the faire woman he so clearly adored.
For whatever reason, Willey kept balking at naming the name of the man who had frightened her so. Finally, in exasperation, Matthews blurted it out.
In that sense, it was Matthews who broadcast the name of the person who was falsely accused and who could have been killed. For whatever reason, Willey—who had apparently been pimping the name in private—wasn't willing to pimp it on the air until Matthews blurted it out.
(At that point, Willey confirmed the accuracy of the claim which turned out to be false.)
In a sensible world, Matthews would have been fired for his gruesome behavior that night. In the world of "cable news," he probably got a raise.
He spent the next eighteen months slandering Candidate Gore in a wide array of disordered, repulsive ways. In fairness, he never said Gore was born in Kenya. But he came pretty darn close.
His reported salary went from $1.6 million to $5 million during this period, in which he seemed to be in service to his owner, GE's Jack Welch.
Whatever! This moronic 1999 incident helped set the stage for the lawyer's appearance on Hardball last night. Slithering creatures always seem to know where they'll fit in best.
Was Stephanie Clifford physically threatened at some point? We have no way of knowing. Based upon last evening's performance, it seems there will be no external proof of any such threat. We'll simply have to take her word about the physical threat, just as we once took the word of the badly scared Kathleen Willey.
We base that supposition on last evening's transcript. Nineteen years after he almost got Cody Shearer killed, Matthews started the relevant exchange in his stupidest circus clown manner:
MATTHEWS (3/23/18): OK, let's go back to this bodily threat, bodily harm. Was it a threat? Was it a kind of a Luca Brasi thing, "Your signature is on the table or your brains?""Was it like Luca Brasi?" the suspected sociopath skillfully said, possibly taking his cue from Mika's earlier instant hysterics. ("Did someone point a gun at her?")
How vivid and how frightening was that bodily threat, the threat to bodily harm of your client?
He's been playing the game this way for the past twenty years! It's how he got Bush elected.
Children are dead all over the world because he served Jack Welch so well. On the bright side, his "swag" went way up.
"Was it like Luca Brasi?" the suspected sociopath and dear friend of Rachel Maddow said. Here's how the lawyer replied:
AVENATTI (continuing directly): Well, I think the American people are certainly going to hear about that on Sunday. I know they are.That was it! There's no way to be sure, of course, but it sounds like we're going to have to trust the client's account. There won't be any audiotape of the scary physical threat—not even doctored audiotape, of the type Gennifer Flowers once seemed to provide as she tried to prove something else.
MATTHEWS: Well, you're here. And you said it was a threat of bodily harm. And I wondered, is it like— Was it delivered in person or on the phone?
AVENATTI: Chris, here's what I will tell you.
The threat was delivered in person. My client is going to describe it in detail on Sunday. The American people are going to hear from her. They're going to judge her credibility. It was very frightening to her.
And I think they're going to come away with a firm understanding, after that interview, of exactly what happened here.
MATTHEWS: Well, I'm getting the picture here.
It's possible that there will be external evidence, of course. It didn't sound that way last night.
Long ago and far away, we the highly gullible people trusted Kathleen Willey. The lovesick boys of the mainstream press had already made fools of themselves as they stood in line to say how blatantly truthful her troubling claims so blatantly were.
Matthews decided to name a name and almost got someone killed. You've never heard that he did that because codes of silence are very strong among life forms like Maddow and Lawrence.
Was Clifford threatened at some point? We have no way of knowing. For ourselves, we wouldn't trust her lawyer as far as he could slither. Before we stampede off to trust Clifford, we'll remember what Willey did.
The lovesick boys all stood in line to swear that Willey was telling the truth. When Ken Starr's successor, Robert Ray, issued his official final report, he said he'd considered charging her with perjury, she had lied so often.
Our big newspapers buried that fact, just as everyone has agreed not to discuss what Matthew did. You see, your "press corps" has always [HEART]ed accusers, and they [HEART] accusers today!
Anderson's Playpen will air Sunday night. The world's dumbest people "can't wait."
It happens every spring: Juanita Broaddrick also came up a claim about the scary threat she received from Hillary Clinton.
Judged by any normal standard, the claim seemed absurd on its face. As late as September 2016, the New York Times was still trying to sell it, out on the paper's front page.
We liberals should maybe remember this shit. Because of the way the human brain evolved, we can assure you—we won't!