Thursday, January 17, 2008

What is Wrong With Chris Matthews?

Dear Friend,
By now, you may be familiar with this recent exchange between Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews:
Sen. Clinton: "I don't know what to do with men who are obsessed with me. I honestly have never understood it."


[...]
Matthews: "It's not obsession."
If you have ever watched an episode of Hardball, you may find Matthews' above statement a bit suspect. After all, as Media Matters for America has previously documented, after The New York Times published an article on Hillary and Bill Clinton's marriage in May of 2006, Matthews asked at least 90 questions on the subject over the course of seven broadcasts on his two programs (Hardball and The Chris Matthews Show). One of his guests during these broadcasts, Washington Post reporter Lois Romano, called Matthews out after he repeatedly inquired about how many days the Clintons slept under the same roof. "[W]hat is your obsession with logistics here?" she asked.

To get an idea of the type of language Matthews regularly uses when covering Clinton, take a look at this sampling:
"I hate her. I hate her. All that she stands for."
"She Devil"
"Nurse Ratched"
"Madame Defarge"
"Witchy"
"Anti-male"
"[U]ppity"
"She's going to tell us what to do."
"Her scolding manner in terms of her public speaking"
"[L]et's talk about the troops ...Will they take the orders?"
"[D]oesn't she know she looks like a fraud?"
"Look at those eyes. Look at the cold eyes that she's giving him. Look at that cold look."
"[L]ike a strip-teaser saying she's flattered by the all the attention"

On Sen. Clinton's endorsers: "castratos in the eunuch chorus"
"Let me tell you how short Hillary's leash is."
"Is she a convincing mom?"

On Sen. Clinton's laugh: "What do you make of the cackle?"
"[S]he's clapping, like she's Chinese. I know the Chinese clap at each other, but what is she clapping at? I mean, it's like one of these wind-up things."
"[S]he was giving a campaign barn-burner speech, which is harder to give for a woman; it can grate on some men when they listen to it -- fingernails on a blackboard, perhaps."
"Is there, out there in the country or out in the Atlantic Ocean, some gigantic monster -- big, green, horny-headed, all kinds of horns coming out, big, aggressive monster of anti-Hillaryism that hasn't shown itself: it's based upon gender ..."
"[B]eing surrounded by women, does that make a case for commander in chief -- or does it make a case against it?"
"Is she hemmed in by the fact that she's a woman and can't admit a mistake, or else the Republicans will say, 'Oh, that's a woman's prerogative to change her mind,' or 'another fickle woman'? Is her gender a problem in her ability to change her mind?"
"[T]he reason she's a U.S. senator, the reason she's a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around."
"She may have gotten The Des Moines Register's endorsement the other day, thanks to her husband's lobbying with its female editors and publisher ..."

She may take the brunt of his vitriol and sexist commentary, but Clinton is far from the only woman targeted by Matthews. Here are some other notable examples:

On House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:
Described her as "scary"

Suggested she would "castrate" House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer
Wondered how she could disagree with President Bush "without screaming? How does she do it without becoming grating?"

On Michelle Obama during the first Democratic presidential debate:
"I thought Michelle, whatever you say about Obama, his wife looked perfect -- perfect for the occasion ... I'm sorry, those things are important. You guys are ignoring it. Some people are, by the way, just watching tonight. They stopped listening a half-hour in, and they noticed how pretty she is -- Michelle -- and they said, 'I like the fact he's got this pretty wife. He's happily married. I like that.' " After Matthews' take on Michelle Obama's appearance, NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell was compelled to remind Matthews that Mrs. Obama is a Harvard-educated lawyer.

On potential future female presidential candidates:
"[T]here's not even another on the horizon. Where are the governors? Where are the big-state women governors? Where are they? Name one. They don't exist." (Note: Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell, and Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius all run states with populations comparable to male governors who have recently run for president, including Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Bill Richardson.)

On women who live in the suburbs who "may not work outside the home":
"They're talking around election time -- the husband and the wife -- you know, she says, 'I sort of like this Hillary, the first woman president. She's pro-choice.' And the husband says, 'You know, dear, you know, this is going to kill our tax bracket. You know that tuition thing we pay every couple of years for the kids, every year, we can't do that if we get a higher tax bracket. We have to pay more money.' "

On right-wing radio talk show host Laura Ingraham:
"I get in trouble for this, but you're great looking, obviously. You're one of the gods' gifts to men in this country. But also, you are a hell of a writer."

On CNBC anchor Erin Burnett:
"Come on in closer. No, come in -- come in further -- come in closer. Really close ... No, you're beautiful. I'm just kidding. I'm just kidding. You're a knockout. Anyway, thank you, Erin Burnett ... It's all right getting bad news from you, even, OK?"

Matthews' clearly misogynistic commentary has landed him in the middle of a grassroots firestorm. Over the weekend, the Associated Press ran this piece, which has appeared in more than 60 papers around the country, and we, at Media Matters, have been following the amazing work the blogosphere has done in bringing his comments to the public at large.

It's crucial for us to keep pressure on Matthews and MSNBC. Please take a moment to write a post on your blog, tell your friends and neighbors, and contact MSNBC and Chris Matthews today.

Tell them what you think about this kind of sexist commentary polluting the airwaves.

Mr. Phil Griffin,

Senior Vice President, News

NBC Television Network

30 Rockefeller PlzNew York, NY 10112

phil.griffin@nbc.com

Steve Capus,President, NBC News

steve.capus@nbc.com

MSNBC

letters@msnbc.com

MSNBC/Microsoft-NBC

30 Rockefeller Plz

3rd Fl

New York, NY 10112

(212) 664-4444

Chris Matthews

hardball@msnbc.com

It's time to play a little "hardball." Contact MSNBC and Chris Matthews today!

Thank you for your continued support.

Sincerely,
David Brock,

President & CEOMedia Matters for America

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