Mar 5, 2020

Chris Mathews, A Useless Newsman/Journalist Has Left NBC/MSNBC, Thank God!

Related Background/Context:
1. Media: How The "Left" Enables GOP Tyranny - The Ongoing Iraq War Lies Coverup By Richard Engel & NBC
2. Why Do News Outlets Bring On Non-Scientists To Argue Against Science?
3. Bernie Sanders’ Rise Prompts Media Meltdown, Establishment Panic: A Closer Look
4. Corporate Media's Iraq War Coverup: Incontrovertible Proof Of Network News & The Beltway Media Covering Facts About The Iraq War For Their GOP Masters
5. Mainstream Media Is Markedly Pro-Right Wing Lies
6. Fox News Are Just White Supremacists Using "The Nazi Mirror Tactic" On Bernie Sanders, Being Given A Free Pass By The Media
7. NBC/MSNBC's Hidden Role As "The Rights, Left"

Media Matters: Does anyone miss Chris Matthews?

MSNBC anchor Brian Williams apparently felt Chris Matthews’ absence during the network’s coverage of the Super Tuesday Democratic primaries. 
“We are missing our mutual friend,” Williams said of the longtime Hardball host, who had announced his departure from the network the previous evening. 
But for viewers tuning in to MSNBC, much was the same as on previous election nights: Williams and Rachel Maddow anchored the coverage, throwing to correspondents in the field and commentators on the set for their takes on election results, while Steve Kornacki broke down incoming vote and projected delegate totals on his screen. 
Maybe you enjoy that sort of thing, maybe you don’t, but it’s hard to argue that what it was missing was a septuagenarian invoking Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders amid a rant about how he would have been executed in Central Park if the communists had won the Cold War. 
Matthews, who has helped set MSNBC’s tone and direction for decades, wasn’t really bringing much to the table. He “didn’t listen, didn’t do his homework and treated politics as a game in which noisy confrontation was a necessity,” as The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan noted in a typically astute column. 
His brand was conflict and the political horse race, and the shoutfests he oversaw became, for a time, the staple of cable news programming. But his particular version of that generally mediocre content was notably hollow, powered by stale and surface-level insights he gleaned from a career in politics now three decades past.
None of this is to underplay the toxic mix of relentlessly misogynistic commentary and casually sexist comments to women who went on his show that led to his departure. MSNBC seems to have shown him the door in light of his confrontation last week with Sen. Elizabeth Warren over her criticism of Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg for reported gender-based discrimination at his company, together with GQ columnist Laura Bassett’s essay about Matthews inappropriately flirting with her in MSNBC’s makeup room. 
These controversies were the latest examples of Matthews’ long history of such behavior. He frequently commented on the physical appearances of female politicians and journalists, and regularly objectified women who came on his show. This spurred situations that were uncomfortable for the viewer and must have been unbearable for the recipients of his comments. This rampant misogyny constantly spilled over into Matthews’ political coverage, particularly his treatment of Hillary Clinton. Hardball viewers learned that Clinton was a “witchy” and “fickle” “she devil” and “strip-teaser” whose laugh was a “cackle” and whose voice sounded like “fingernails on a blackboard.” He termed her male supporters “castratos in the eunuch chorus.”
But as Sullivan pointed out, Matthews was a particularly lazy exemplar of a type of commentator whose value to viewers is already marginal. He was more concerned with who was up and who was down than what they had to offer the country. And he shot from the hip, convinced that his gut reactions were evidence of broad trends.
And so President George W. Bush, circa 2003, was an “effective commander” who “won the war” (“Everybody recognizes that, I believe, except a few critics,” he claimed). Bush “glimmers” with “sunny nobility,” and “everybody sort of likes the president, except for the real whack jobs,”  Matthew added a couple years later. 
Matthews’ 2008 commentary is largely remembered for his sexist Clinton remarks and his claim that he got a “thrill up my leg” from Barack Obama. But he was hardly in the tank for the then-Illinois senator -- as Jamison Foser noted for Media Matters at the time, he was constantly arguing that Obama couldn’t relate to “regular people,” by which he meant “white people.” Matthews ridiculed Obama for ordering orange juice in a diner, claimed that his lack of bowling prowess “tells you something about the Democratic Party,” said he was out of touch for playing pool, and complained that he wasn’t “beefy” enough. By contrast, Matthews repeatedly said that the Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain, “deserves to be president.” 
In 2016, the Hardball host boiled the choice voters faced down to this: If “you want to keep all this the way it is, vote for Hillary Clinton,” but voting for Donald Trump would “shake the system to its roots.”
And his commentary this cycle has been marred by a string of bizarre and offensive remarks. Beyond the aforementioned Warren confrontation and his weird comments about Sanders and alternate universe Cold War executions, Matthews compared the rise of Sanders, who is Jewish, to the Nazis conquering France (he later apologized) and mixed up Jaime Harrison, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in South Carolina, with Republican Sen. Tim Scott (both Scott and Harrison are Black). 
MSNBC and its viewers will be able to move on without Matthews. They’ve done something similar in the recent past. As the network’s senior political analyst, Mark Halperin helped drive the conversation during the 2012 and 2016 elections. Like Matthews, Halperin fixated on horse-race minutiae and the tactical acumen of candidates rather than their positions or policies. He was known for his mathematically incoherent candidate performance scorecards and his books, which literally described elections as a game. Halperin was considered indispensable to MSNBC -- right up to the minute he was fired after women came forward to detail his history of sexual harassment and assault.  
Few people look at the coverage of the 2020 election and say, “I wish we had Mark Halperin’s take.” In a couple of months, the same will be true of Matthews.

Media Matters: MSNBC turned a blind eye to Chris Matthews' sexist, misogynistic, and offensive behavior for years

Chris Matthews announced that March 2 would be his final show:

Statement from Julie Millican, Vice President at Media Matters:
Matthews’ departure from MSNBC is long overdue. He has a decades-long history of misogyny -- on and off the air -- and even openly bragged about whether women measured up to his “Chris Matthews test" of women’s attractiveness. He spoke derisively of female politicians, complaining about their voices and diminishing their accomplishments. He had a particular fixation on whether powerful women were “castrating” their male counterparts.
Matthews’ derogatory behavior towards women extended off-air as well. NBC Universal has settled at least one sexual harassment claim against Matthews and as recently as last week, journalist Laura Bassett disclosed that Matthews behaved in a “gross" and “inappropriate" manner when she was a guest on his show.
Despite all of this, MSNBC continued to give Matthews a powerful platform on the network, making him a feature of their political commentary and a staple of their election coverage. No matter how the decision was made for Matthews to resign, the fact remains that MSNBC turned a blind eye to his sexist, misogynistic, and offensive behavior for years. This move was beyond overdue, and the network should be ashamed to have propped up this man for so long.
Media Matters has documented Matthews' misogyny for years. He was also named Misinformer of the Year in 2005.

Media Matters: NBC’s dark history of sexual misconduct puts Chris Matthews’ grilling of Elizabeth Warren over Bloomberg’s NDAs in context

MSNBC host Chris Matthews came to the apparent defense of Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg while interviewing rival Elizabeth Warren about her criticism of Bloomberg and his company’s handling of allegations of sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination. Matthews’ line of questioning is troubling considering MSNBC’s parent company NBCUniversal has been embroiled in a years-long scandal regarding cultivating a toxic culture of sexual harassment and misconduct, including its use of NDAs to silence women who had come forward with stories of abuse.
In the debate itself Tuesday night, Warren had repeated a report that Bloomberg had mistreated a pregnant employee. During the network’s post-debate spin room coverage, Matthews asked: Why would Bloomberg lie about it?
The pregnant employee sued Bloomberg in 1998, saying he had told her upon learning of her pregnancy to “kill it” and also expressed in frustration, “Great, number 16,” an apparent reference to the number of women employees who were either pregnant or had newborn children at the time.
This past month, The Washington Post interviewed a former Bloomberg company employee, David Zielenziger, who told the paper that he had witnessed the conversation but had not previously spoken publicly about it. The paper also noted that Bloomberg has denied the allegation and that the case was resolved through a confidential settlement.
Matthews repeatedly asked Warren such questions as “You believe he's that kind of person who did that?” and “You believe he’s lying?”
Warren answered each time that she believed the woman in the case, and she also registered her own protest: “We have gone on and on and on, where people say, ‘Oh, I can't really believe the woman.’ Really? Why not?”

Matthews’ rhetorical crescendo reached its apex when he asked: “And why would he lie? Because just to protect himself?”
“Yeah,” Warren responded bluntly. “And why would she lie? I mean, that's the question, Chris.”
There have already been calls for Matthews to be fired.
Matthews has a long history of on-air sexism, especially regarding inappropriate comments about Hillary Clinton. Recently, Matthews generated controversy by comparing Sen. Bernie Sanders’ victory in the Nevada caucuses to the Nazi invasion of France. (Many of Sanders’ relatives were killed in the Holocaust.) He subsequently delivered an on-air apology.
But Matthews’ seeming defense of Bloomberg harkens back to a broader problem within NBCUniversal and how the corporation has handled sexual harassment and misconduct complaints. In 2017, the network fired longtime Today star Matt Lauer after he was accused of raping a co-worker and faced other allegations of misconduct. Since then, at least seven NBCUniversal employees have been publicly named for sexual misconduct or gender-based harassment, including Matthews himself.
The right-wing Daily Caller reported in 2017 that MSNBC had paid a $40,000 settlement in 1999 to an assistant producer on Matthews’ show over inappropriate remarks he had allegedly made. USA Today then reported that “the network's investigation into the incident found that the remarks were inappropriate and sophomoric and in poor taste, but not meant as propositions,” and Matthews received a formal reprimand. But the network would not elaborate further on the employee’s departure and compensation package.
NBC News has been pilloried for creating a “‘boys’ club’ that ignored a culture of sexual misconduct,” which included covering up incidents of misconduct with strict NDAs that prohibited the women from speaking publicly about their experiences. (In October 2019, NBC announced it would release women from their NDAs.)
The network also famously killed high-profile stories of sexual misconduct, passing on Ronan Farrow’s months-long investigation into multiple reports of harassment and assault by movie executive Harvey Weinstein. (Farrow’s piece eventually ran in The New Yorker and he went on to win a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting.) Farrow’s reporting on Weinstein, as well as Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting by New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, sparked the #MeToo movement and resulted in Weinstein being convicted of rape and criminal sexual assault.
And back in fall 2016, the network sat on Access Hollywood footage depicting now-President Donald Trump bragging about committing sexual assault, which was eventually scooped by another outlet. NBC subsequently waffled on whether to fire its own employee, Billy Bush, for his participation in the damning exchange. (Ten days after the footage emerged, Bush was fired and offered a multimillion-dollar severance package that included a non-disclosure agreement.)
It is this context that makes Matthews’ exchange with Warren even more troubling and again calls into question whether NBC has learned any lessons at all.

Media Matters: Chris Matthews has no idea what he’s talking about on Bernie Sanders and “democratic socialism”

Chris Matthews’ job is to provide MSNBC’s audience with political insights. He's supposed to have a lot of them; after all, he spent his career in and around Washington, D.C., power centers. But his recent befuddlement over Sen. Bernie Sanders’ self-description as a democratic socialist revealed the limits of that experience. Apparently, Matthews is bafflingly ignorant of an idea that's played a key role in the last two Democratic presidential nominating contests.
After last Friday’s Democratic presidential debate, Matthews appeared on MSNBC to analyze the results. And apparently his big insight was that Sanders’ ascendance in presidential primary polls means that old-school communism is making a comeback. Matthews’ apparent fear that he might personally have been publicly executed “if Castro and the Reds had won the Cold War,” went viral. But what he said immediately afterward was even more self-indicting.
“I don't know what he means by ‘socialist,’” Matthews said of the Vermont senator. “One week, it's ‘Denmark. We’re going to be like Denmark.’” That would be “harmless,” Matthews admitted, because the Nordic state is “basically a capitalist country with a lot of good social welfare programs.” But Matthews insisted that Sanders might secretly have something far more dire in mind. When a fellow MSNBC host argued that the senator is “pretty clearly in the Denmark category,” Matthews replied: “Is he? Are you sure? How do you know? Did he tell you that?”

Matthews’ apparent uncertainty about Sanders’ definition of “democratic socialist” is bizarre. The Democratic presidential candidate has explained the term over and over in major venues for years. He’s devoted major speeches in each of his presidential campaigns to the topic. And he’s discussed it in interviews, during several prime-time presidential primary debates, and on the campaign trail. And while Matthews suggested that Sanders’ comparison to Denmark is somewhat new, Sanders has described “democratic socialism” in terms of a Scandanavian-style economy since at least his Senate election in 2006.
To Sanders, “democratic socialism” means treating economic rights, like access to health care, housing, and education, as human rights. Its mechanisms include expanding social welfare programs, increasing the minimum wage, and strengthening trade unions. It also requires reforming the political system to make it more attuned to the public and less influenced by the wealthy and powerful. The political thinkers he credits are not Marx and Lenin, but Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Martin Luther King Jr. 
Sanders hit all of those notes in a speech laying out “the path that I call democratic socialism” last June. “We must recognize that in the 21st century, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, economic rights are human rights. That is what I mean by democratic socialism,” he said. “As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all of God’s children.’”
It’s unclear what part of Sanders’ program Matthews disagrees with, if any. But Matthews’ ignorance has real consequences, especially for people who rely on his show for their political news. And some of Matthews’ programming decisions make that ignorance seem purposeful. When Sanders gave that address on June 12, Matthews basically skipped it.
Hours after Sanders spoke, Matthews hosted his campaign co-chair Nina Turner. But after introducing her and acknowledging that “Bernie gave a big speech,” he devoted the interview to the “bigger news” breaking about President Donald Trump. The next night, the speech itself again received short shrift -- rather than showing his audience what Sanders had said, Matthews instead aired a clip of a different Democratic presidential candidate criticizing it, before closing his broadcast with a monologue about socialism’s unpopularity and how Roosevelt was “not a socialist” that all but ignored Sanders’ actual argument.
Pundits can reasonably argue over whether Sanders’ vision is wise, or realistically achievable within the constraints of the U.S. system. They can mull over whether Sanders’ description actually comports with “socialism” as it is traditionally defined, discuss the degree to which Denmark’s system is actually “socialist,” and question how closely Sanders’ platform aligns the U.S. with Nordic countries.
But they can’t, as Chris Matthews does, both claim to be experts on politics and insist that Sanders’ views are a mystery. 


No comments:

Post a Comment