Thursday, November 06, 2008

Chris Matthews Just Wants to Help

Reading through my RSS feeds today, I came across a post on RedBlueChristian that linked to a snippet of an interview with Chris Matthews posted at The snippet focused on a statement from Chris Matthews that his job (as a journalist) was to help the Obama presidency succeed. But the snippet didn't provide any real context for the comments, and I tend to distrust short snippets of interviews pulled out of their context.

So, I went looking, and found the entire interview segment on MSNBC's site. The clip was from a show called Morning Joe, I believe from this morning, and I found the segment right on MSNBC's Videos page. I've extracted a direct link, but if it doesn't work, you can probably find the clip with a little digging on the MSNBC site (at least for a while).

In this case, the extended viewing generally confirmed the original impression of the shorter snippet, and also added a good deal of commentary. After Matthews made his comment, the other hosts on the show took him to task for it, and a fascinating dialog followed. Matthews expanded on what he had said, qualified it to some degree, but basically held to it. At the end, one of the hosts of the show (I don't know his name, unfortunately) gave what I thought was a very pertinent and stinging rejoinder.

Anyway, give it a listen. I found it fascinating, and I will be curious to see if this plays out as Matthews has described it... if the media (in contrast to how they have interacted with Bush and other recent prominent political figures) gives Obama the benefit of the doubt, tries to avoid stirring up controversy (!), and generally restricts itself to clear questions about specific policies, otherwise doing what it can to be helpful to the administration.

Frankly, I don't think that will last long. The public has an insatiable hunger for controversy and scandal, and the major media won't be able to keep its fingers out of that pie. But, it's telling that someone as prominent as Chris Matthews has that desire and intention.


1 comment:

Kevin said...


That does sound like a remarkably candid admission of bias, which I actually appreciate. Matthews succinctly provided us with his present worldview, through which we can better interpret his specific commentary.

I think it also reveals the fascinating thought process regarding bias in journalism. The ultimate purpose is to do good. Every fact requires context and, naturally, you give the benefit of the doubt to angels, and you take it from devils. Honest bias is founded upon the intent to communicate a greater truth. And, to Matthews, that greater truth is simply that Obama is good.

The major media is more difficult to characterize as a whole, as opposed to statistically, but I basically agree with you. Some part of the major media is already critical, and it makes sense to me that as Obama makes concrete decisions, he'll alienate more and more journalists.

Plus, as you imply, there seems to be a psychological need to tear down our heroes. I think that is actually how some journalists judge whether they are doing good.

But, within a major media that already leans Democratic and therefore would favor Obama's policies, it seems that the devotion Obama has inspired is truly exceptional. I am intensely curious whether Obama's campaign rhetoric will be reconciled, via his actions, to the satisfaction of the major media or The People in general.

btw, I think that rejoinder was made by Joe Scarborough.