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HEY NOW WHATWe don’t know what his exact words were, but according to this write-up of a recent media panel in Boston, Chris Matthews was cryogenically frozen during the years 2002 and 2003: “Hardball host Chris Matthews argued that because of the rise of opinion-based news networks, the non-critical aspect of the media is gone, going as far to say that the reporting that verified the U.S. administration’s claims about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in 2002 would not happen today because of cable news.” Yep, back in 2002 alright we didn’t have any of these serious cable news channels to provide accountability. There was one channel on the television box and one broadsheet newspaper in the entire country, The New Amsterdam Revue-McDiggity. Beyond that, astrology was your best means of arriving at the truth.

We at Wonkette are so old that we can remember cable news existing in the run-up to the Iraq war, and not so much challenging its premises as working as hard as possible to make it happen. MSNBC was indeed a cable news network back then and Chris Matthews, who hasn’t exactly changed much over the years, was hosting Hardball. Phil Donahue had a show on MSNBC back then and, to his credit, he challenged the Iraq war propaganda. But then he got fired, with Chris Matthews helping to push him out.

Perhaps he meant that the cable news of today, since MSNBC didn’t turn left until a few years later, in response to a liberal audience that hated cable news for its Iraq War cheerleading. But again, Chris Matthews has been the same mildly Democratic opinion screamer on the same opinion show on the same network since 1999. Here he is in 2002, along with fellow proud liberal David Schuster while he still worked at MSNBC:

MSNBC’s Hardball host Chris Matthews asks of World Bank/IMF protests in Washington DC: “Those people out in the streets, do they hate America?” Conservative pundit Cliff May responds: “Yes, I’m afraid a lot of them do. They hate America. They align themselves with Saddam Hussein. They align themselves with terrorists all over the world.” Hardball correspondent David Shuster later adds that “anti-Americanism is in the air.”

But that’s old hat, right? Now we have one cable news channel that will reflexively support a war if a Democrat is president and another that will reflexively support a war if a Republican is president, so thank god we’ve finally got some honest brokers on cable news with the courage to present the facts.

UPDATE: Matthews was on all sorts of fire!

Later, moderator Steve Scully somewhat cheekily brought up Matthews’ statement in 2008 that he “felt this thrill going up my leg” when hearing then-candidate Barack Obama speak.

Scully asked Matthews if the “thrill” is still there. Matthews proceeded to issue a very sharp response.

He said that Scully would have noted that he said the same thing in 2004 if he “had done [his] reporting,” and then defended the 2008 line. “I’m an untraditional person but I have traditional values and I love the country and I said so,” he explained. “Perhaps I shouldn’t have said so because I’ve given a lot of jackasses the chance to talk about it.”

“So I hope you feel satisfied that you raised the most obvious question that is raised by every horses ass right winger that I ever bump into,” Matthews continued. “Thank you, Steve, for serving up that little soufflé you have been working on since last night sometime when your brain exploded with this idea that you were going to ask me about it.”

[Broadcasting & Cable via FAIR/Glenn Greenwald]

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