Chris Matthews: The Thrill Is Gone

Blogger Brad Jacobson gives play-by-play (MediaBloodhound, 1/28/09) for an epic attempt by MSNBC‘s Chris Matthews to live down his one-time confession to having “felt this thrill going up my leg” during a Barack Obama speech. Matthews’ reparation strategy: “How about facilitating a discussion about Obama’s proposed stimulus plan with two lawmakers from the same party, the Republican Party?”

That’s precisely what Matthews did during a segment on his January 27 edition of Hardball, inviting only Senator John Ensign (R-Nevada) and Representative Mike Pence, the House Republican conference chair, to discuss the plan.

Not enough? How about a segment exploring whether Rush Limbaugh is the “new voice of the GOP,” but once again facilitating the “balanced” discussion with two people on the right and no one on the left or even center? (Never mind that Limbaugh has been the voice of the Republican Party for two decades and counting.) In the very same broadcast, Matthews did this as well, bringing on MSNBC analyst Pat Buchanan and right-wing radio talkshow host Heidi Harris. (You might remember that Harris, appearing on Hardball during the election season, had told Matthews that women vote for Democrats because they “tend to think with their hearts and not with their minds.”)

But wait, there’s more: “How about, in the process, framing a question based on Rush Limbaugh’s assertions and posing it to these two other right-wingers while prefacing the question with the words, ‘Let’s get back to the facts here’?” To Jacobson, “this kind of fairness and balance not only rivals Fox News but threatens to out-Fox it”–not that this would be a new trend or anything; see the FAIR publication Extra! Update: “Struggling MSNBC Attempts to Out-Fox Fox” (2/05) by Peter Hart