If Chris Matthews Were Capable of Embarrassment

…he would have to take a leave of absence to recover from the shame of having heaped ridicule on a guest who tried to explain to him how Congress could and would pass a healthcare reform bill.

Daily Kos (3/22/10) recalled the January 22 edition of MSNBC‘s Hardball, in which guest Rep. Alan Grayson (D.-Fla.) pointed out that the Senate had already passed a healthcare bill, and that the House could approve it and then pass amendments that the Senate could accept via reconciliation. Matthews’ response: “OK, OK. OK, you know, this show is about reality.”

Matthews continually mocked Grayson for his supposed ignorance of Senate procedure:

What are you talking about? What procedure do you know that Harry Reid doesn’t know?… That Dick Durbin doesn’t know? That all those top guys, that Ted Kennedy didn’t know?… The secret route to the Indies that only you know about?… Why do you think the president and everybody else is dying over the fact that they lost Massachusetts? Because it didn’t matter? You think they’re all crazy over there, but you’re smart?

Matthews’ choice of insults was telling: “This is netroots talk!… This is outsider talk, and you’re an elected official…and you know you can’t do it. You’re pandering to the netroots right now. I know what you’re doing!”

By contrast, Matthews cited his insider credentials as a former Capitol Hill staffer to dismiss the lawmaker’s analysis:

Well, I worked over there for many, many years, and I worked for the speaker for six years, I worked 15 years up there…and I know what I’m talking about! You ask anybody… you ask anybody in the Senate right now…. Go call the Senate legislative counsel’s office and ask them if you can do this. Go ask the parliamentarians if you can do this. You haven’t bothered to do that.

Matthews made it abundantly clear that only Beltway insiders are worth listening to, and that Grayson, who’s only been in Congress for a little more than a year, didn’t qualify: “Every night, we deal with two worlds: the real world of Congress, that has to do things and get things passed; and this outside world, represented by the netroots and the other people out there, like yourself, who play this game…and it doesn’t get done!”

The host closed with a confident prediction about healthcare reform: “It’s not gonna happen. Anyway, Congressman Alan Grayson, a true believer, who believes he can get things done by willing it!”

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.