Two sides of the same coin. Hot air.
Update: Actually, I learned something from this exercise that shouldn’t have surprised me, but which sparked a memory: Rush Limbaugh, expostulating about MSNBC, is positively astounded at the change in Chris Matthews.
Chris Matthews! Seems that Chris, at one time, was an acceptable substitute host for Rush’s program, whenever Rush was on a sex tourist vacation.
And then I remembered that before Chris was getting tingles up his leg from Obamalove, he was head honcho cheerleader for George W Bush. (Who remembers Chris and the “Mission Accomplished” moment?)
Or maybe Matthews is just a salesman? After all, there was a time that MSNBC tried to outflank Fox on the Right (in the wake of patriotism engendered by 9/11). I guess maybe that might explain Chris’s flag-waving fervour, but it doesn’t explain the part he played in getting television talkshow icon, Phil Donahue, the sack:-
Despite the network’s emphasis on flag waving, MSNBC showed how little it understood the Fox model when, with Griffin as MSNBC’s prime time head, it hired the liberal Phil Donahue, who’d been Griffin’s childhood idol, out of retirement in April 2002 to anchor an 8 p.m. prime-time talk show that would challenge O’Reilly. The show debuted with the highest ratings ever for an MSNBC program, attracting more than a million viewers in its first night. But within a month, the audience was cut in half. At the same time, executives expressed increasing unease about his vocal opposition to the looming war in Iraq. At a time when red-meat patriotism prevailed, Donahue booked antiwar guests like Michael Moore, Rosie O’Donnell, Susan Sarandon, and Tim Robbins. Soon the Donahue problem threatened Griffin’s job. In a tense phone conversation, Shapiro told MSNBC president Erik Sorenson to fire Griffin, but Sorenson pushed back.
“I’m not going to do that,” he told Shapiro. “No. 1: Phil’s been loyal to me for a long time. I don’t think it’s right. And No. 2: We’re short-handed. We have all this talent, and he’s the one who’s managing it.”
As a compromise, Griffin’s job was spared but he was stripped of responsibility for the show. The new producer insisted on a precise numerical balance between liberals and conservatives. Donahue’s problems only increased when Chris Matthews let it be known that he wanted Donahue off the air. Matthews was a rising force at the network, with a reported salary of $5 million. He cultivated former G.E. CEO Jack Welch and had the ear of NBC CEO Bob Wright (the two summered together on Nantucket). Matthews saw himself as MSNBC’s biggest star, and he was upset that the network was pumping significant resources into Donahue’s show. In the fall of 2002, U.S. News & World Report ran a gossip item that had Matthews saying over lunch in Washington that if Donahue stays on the air, he could bring down the network.
After the item was published, Matthews showed up at Donahue’s office and apologized. “He didn’t deny it,” Donahue remembers.
As much as it pains me to admit any agreement with Limbaugh, I also wonder what the hell happened to Chris Matthews. Like a lot of other talking heads, he started souring on Bush only when it was safe to do so. He slated the Clintons remorselessly during the Lewinsky scandal, yet visibly chokes up and constantly mistakenly refers to Bill Clinton as “the President.” He’s recently just come off a massive hard-on for Michele Bachmann, calling her his “hero.”
The Spanish have a proverb, Dime con quien andas y te dire’ quien eres – which, basically, means that you’re judge by the company you keep. In Chris’s case, as he tends to pal around with the likes of Howard Fineman and Bill Maher, I’d have no compunction in calling him a hack.
And as for the last clip shown above, you can well imagine a debate between Rush Limbaugh and his former protege’, Ed Schultz. There’d be an hour of posturing, screaming, name-calling and near-myocardial infarctioned red faces … and then the Drugster and Mr Ed would retire to the nearest bar to laugh all the way to bank, at their dittoes’ expense.