When It Comes to Drones, Trust the Churchgoing CIA Director

 Last night, MSNBC‘s Chris Matthews (2/5/13) hosted a discussion on the Obama administration’s recently disclosed “white paper” justifying its policy of using drones to strike at U.S. citizens.

Matthews appeared rather uncomfortable with the topic, ultimately deciding that the policy was defensible–on the grounds that the CIA director Leon Panetta goes to church:


Matthews’ comment, in case for some reason you don’t want to watch it:

I think Leon is a conscientious guy. He goes to church every day. I think sometimes you have to do things that are not nice. We’re fighting a war.

Of course, anyone familiar with Matthews knows this kind of bizarre faith in political leaders isn’t unusual. He once declared that he “felt this thrill going up my leg” after hearing an Obama speech. But back before MSNBC turned to the left, Matthews was thrilled by different things. Here’s his praise for George W. Bush after his “Mission Accomplished” speech on May 1, 2003:

We’re proud of our president. Americans love having a guy as president, a guy who has a little swagger, who’s physical, who’s not a complicated guy like Clinton or even like Dukakis or Mondale, all those guys, McGovern. They want a guy who’s president. Women like a guy who’s president. Check it out. The women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president. It’s simple. We’re not like the Brits.

And we shouldn’t forget his defense of the Guantanamo prison (1/17/02), recounted in an Extra! piece (9/11) by Andy Worthington:

Chris Matthews on MSNBC‘s Hardball (1/17/02) told a guest from Human Rights Watch who had criticized the open-air cages of Camp X-Ray: “Back when I was a kid, I used to go down there and sleep out in places like the Virgin Islands overnight, and I loved it. I slept in tents. I thought it was great. And you’re making it sound like harsh conditions.”

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.