we would not have been who we were

Chris Matthews: Cable News Never Would Have Let That Bad Iraq Reporting Go Unchecked

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]

About the author

Jim Newell is Wonkette's beloved Capitol Hill Typing Demon. He joined Wonkette.com in 2007, left for some other dumb job in 2010, and proudly returned in 2012 as our "Senior Editor at Large." He lives in Washington and also writes for things such as The Guardian, the Manchester paper of liberals.

View all articles by Jim Newell
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133 comments

    1. Barb

      Jeffer isn't home yet. It's almost time for the hockey game.

      Rarely have I ever heard anything so odd as when Chris Matthews said that Obama was sending a tingle up his leg. I thought that Obama only did that for us gals.

  1. Callyson

    Me, Chris Matthews, and one of those misogynist Hillary nut crackers. Just saying…poetic justice…

    (In a totally non – violent, non – death wishing way of course…

  2. Fukui-sanRadioBarb

    Like any of the cable news 'tards question anything. Except maybe Maddow.

    Wolf Blitzer can barely ask himself what he wants for breakfast, and that mong John King got browbeaten to fuck by Willard.

    1. Blueb4sunrise

      Wolf Blitzer can barely ask himself what he wants for breakfast

      Fukui-san, I ain't blaming you because I almost hurt myself reading that…..I mean, I chose to read the comment, I could have scrolled past…..I'm just saying….ya know….

    2. Wile E. Quixote

      Wouldn't you love to see Wolf Blitzer being interviewed by Anderson Cooper? It would be two hours of two white men with grey hair nodding at each other while they look very, very concerned, or constipated, it's hard to tell which, especially with Blitzer.

      1. Butch_Wagstaff

        Cooper is just as bad as the rest of them. However, he is cute, especially when he giggles. I'm biased, though, because I've had a bit of crush on him since the mid-1990s when he was on the overnight newsdesk on ABC back then.

  3. FlownOver

    Hardball capsule every day of the world:

    "This is how we woulda stuffed the ballot boxes back in Philly. Why isn't anybody as smart, or as loud, as I am?"

  4. Blueb4sunrise

    To be fair, maybe Tweety had been impaired in some way for much of that time.
    Or now.
    Or then, and now.

  5. southernbeale

    Sure let's just remember how then-CNN's Connie Chung handled Iraq skeptics like Rep. Mike Thompson of California:
    http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=1642

    Or how she handled an interview with Martina Navratilova who criticized the authoritarian crushing of civil rights by the Bush Administration:
    http://southernbeale.wordpress.com/2012/05/19/whe

    Now CNN … that's cable, right? Connie Chung, she was a reporter in Los Angeles, a journalist .. not one of these Fox News personalities pulled rehabilitated out of scandal through the wingnut welfare gravy train.

    Yeah. What the fuck EVER Chris Matthews.

  6. southernbeale

    Sure let's just remember how then-CNN's Connie Chung handled Iraq skeptics like Rep. Mike Thompson of California:
    http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=1642

    Or how she handled an interview with Martina Navratilova who criticized the authoritarian crushing of civil rights by the Bush Administration:
    http://southernbeale.wordpress.com/2012/05/19/whe

    Now CNN … that's cable, right? Connie Chung, she was a reporter in Los Angeles, a journalist .. not one of these Fox News personalities pulled rehabilitated out of scandal through the wingnut welfare gravy train.

    Yeah. What the fuck EVER Chris Matthews.

    1. Butch_Wagstaff

      God, that Navratilova interview is basically Chung saying: "You were nothing but a tennis player so what the fuck do you know about politics? And why don't you go back to your own country?"

    2. Negropolis

      There is good reason why Connie Chung was skewered regularly on MAD TV. She's never been the brightest bulb, to say the least.

  7. SmutBoffin

    CNN (and everyone who modeled their channel on CNN, like MSNBC) is what it is today because of the first Gulf War. Of course all the channels wanted a sequel. WAR MAKES CABLE NEWS POSSIBLE.

  8. vodkamuppet

    It's almost like they really think we don't remember, like we live in a, what's the word, hummina hummina hummina, vaacume? No, more spherical like a bubble. Damnit, I can't remember the right word.

      1. vodkamuppet

        Is that anything like a circle jerk that no one ever speaks of when it's over?

          1. vodkamuppet

            Me too. I have every episode of Fuck You with Pat Buchanan & Bill Press on tape if you want to come over and watch. Just don't tell anyone.

    1. bagofmice

      Well, olds don't quite get the Internet. Multiple exabyte datacenters archiving all signal based intelligence in the world forever is beyond their comprehension.

      1. vodkamuppet

        In fairness, I don't think most millenials get the Internet either. My neices and nephews Facebook posts are proof of that.

      1. Fukui-sanRadioBarb

        I've seen jokes made here used on the Daily Show. At least one intern reads this shit.

        1. Biel_ze_Bubba

          I'm gonna start sticking "© 2012" on all my posts from now on, and charge Jon $20 per gag. Just on principle.

        2. Isyaignert

          That's the coolest job in the world – getting paid to read Wonkette. What could possibly be better? The mind boggles.

    1. proudgrampa

      Wonkette is not only my sole source for news, but I also get all my porn here, too. Also.

  9. facehead

    I still remember, way back in 2002, when the Weather Channel was my window, Fox News was a humble website for furry porn, and Wonkette was a hole in the bathroom stall at a truck stop.

  10. edgydrifter

    Wasn't 2002 the year false equivalence was made mandatory at all cable newz outlets? The way I remember it, every news cycle was basically five minutes of Scott Ritter and Hans Blix presenting clear, unambiguous evidence refuting the claim that Iraq had WMDs or even a credible WMD program while the presenter on the other half of the split screen rolled his eyes and made the "cuckoo" gesture, followed by 115 minutes of craggy-faced armchair field marshals screaming "Herp derp! HERP DERP!!" against a computer-generated backdrop of undulating American flags. Rigorous journalism my ass. Chris Matthews should be buried under a pile of amputated limbs.

    1. V572 Is this him?

      Yeah but Scott Ritter got entrapped by a GS-12 pervert government freedom fighter posing as a teenage girl on line so nothing he ever said, is saying, or will ever say in the future could possible have been true, is true, or could become true in the future.

  11. vodkamuppet

    It's like when my ma asks me how I know the words to every Sam Cooke song I've ever heard, the song doesn't just stop existing because it's old, it's still there.

  12. Lionel[redacted]Esq

    Beyond Mathews normal self-delusion, does he really think Cable News would have an impact. Their mostly preaching to the choir. This is why half the vial shit you get on FOX News doesn't phase me, because they are just confirming to the Right that the president is a Socialist, Muslim Kenyan, and that Mitt Romney is currently unemployed, not a life-time politician, and made of flesh and blood.

    So, if Mitt leads us to war in Iran, who's mind is MSNBC going to change? Assuming they don't swallow the propaganda hook line and sinker, like last time.

  13. Designer_Rants

    2002 was officially the year I turned into a News Junkie. Guess what channel I watched back then? Yep, Fox News. Probably about 5 hours a day of it. I didn't know much about bias. But after watching uber-trusted Colin Powell tell us about anthrax and aerial photos, then his friend Condi tell us about mushroom clouds, I still wasn't buying it. I told my friends and family that this whole Iraq war thingy was a travesty. That was an unpopular opinion. Some people yelled at me. Others told me their dad or uncle or some other mountaintop sage said it was a good idea, so; overruled. Shortly thereafter I started to understand what my political identity is, and my cynicism cranked up a good bajillion notches. America! FUCK YEAH!

    But to the point: I don't remember much in the way of criticizing the war lead up from the mainstream media.

    1. Mumbly_Libel

      I remember how painfully obvious it was in 2002, as a college freshman, that based on Bush's own statements, even he was fully aware that WMDs were a complete crock, and that war was inevitable, because he was demanding that Hussein prove a negative: "The only way we'll know you don't have WMD is if you take all the WMD you obviously have, and pile it in a parking lot or something, and destroy it." I mean, never mind the other reasons that demand was insane and farcical.

      I remember patiently trying to explain to my girlfriend at the time, about the obviousness and inevitability, but she was, let's say, excessively credulous when it came to virtually everything, and refused to believe that a president would start a war based on a blatant, calculated, lie. Of course, one of the reasons cited for our breakup was my penchant for irreverant political humor, so (good riddance)^2.

      But, yeah, that was the first time I realized I had incredible political intuition and everyone should listen to me because I'm always right. And also that our society is doomed thanks to both the political and media establishment's distance from anything resembling "facts".

      1. Fukui-sanRadioBarb

        In 2002, as a politically-aware gent I knew that the Iraq war was bullshit.

        Having seen newspaper reports of Jack Straw's (UK foreign secretary at the time) response to Colin Powell's UN presentation before it happened – "this is bullshit. you can't use this." – then it was evident. Powell's response to Straw was, allegedly, "I know, but I have to do it."

        Violation of sovereignty is a big deal in the UN, and the UK helped the US both within the US and in the invasion. It was bullshit back to front, and the UK knew it, but we stand by the US come good or bad.

        Anyway, don't elect a fucking moron like Bush again, PLEASE.

        That whole thing was based on lies and the UK knew it; both the populace and the government.

        1. SoBeach

          "That whole thing was based on lies and the UK knew it; both the populace and the government.

          What people (like Chris Matthews) conveniently forget is that a good 30% or so of Americans also saw the run-up to the Iraq invasion for exactly what it was. The minute it became obvious the WMDs were a lie the narrative changed to "Well, we ALL thought they were there so ooopsy."

          We all didn't think they were there. Some of us knew they weren't there and were pissed about the obviousness of the lies. Some of us sort of knew they weren't there but didn't care because we needed to invade someone fer chrissake. The rest of us watched Fox.

  14. Dr. Nick Riviera

    Chris Matthews is dumb, you all saw Jeopardy. Frankly, I'm shocked he managed to get through that, or any interview, upright and pantsed.

  15. MissTaken

    All I remember about news in 2002 was "Terrorists Bad", "Iraq = WMD", "Slam Dunk", and the creepy crawl that would never end on the bottom of every single news show.

    1. Fare la Volpe

      Whatever happened to that thing? It seems like now they only dust that thing off during primary night, then throw it back in the trash heap where it belongs.

    2. Fukui-sanRadioBarb

      I also remember the anthrax attacks (all to perceived liberals) and fearmongering along the lines of "just think if Saddam's agents could put drops of toxin in NY's or YOUR water supply"

      Bullshit. Bullshit all the way.

  16. Crank_Tango

    All I remember is how badly we treated Shrub in 2002, saying he wasn't even born in the US and all that.

    1. MilwaukeeKent

      We were outraged when he put his feet up on the Oval Office desk, yeah it was unfair, but all was forgiven when he gave Angela Merkel a noogie. Oh, wait…

    1. RavenRant

      I'm rooting for Shep Smith to go over the wall and spill the all the behind-the-scenes Fox filth.

  17. randcoolcatdaddy

    Sorry, Chris Matthews, but if Walter Cronkite were still on the beat, he'd be mopping the floor with that empty vessel on top of your head housing those golden locks.

  18. shortsandpants

    The U.S. really needs to get over this thirty year love-hate relationship with Saddam Hussain. Honestly. It's unhealthy for both parties.

    1. Isyaignert

      But, our oil is under their sand. We're just takin' what Jeezuz wants to have so it's okay. Also, too, there's a trillion dollars of our minerals in the Afghan mountains. Amerikkka – FUK YEAH!

  19. redarmyzombie

    Yes, because Cable News scrutinized the government's claims about Iraq, posed serious questions about the politicization of national security, and in no way did they EVER try and drum up support for a war against Iran in 2007…

    1. shortsandpants

      Yes. And Colonel Custard sure taught those natives a lesson at Little Big Horn. Sure did. Yip.

  20. V572 Is this him?

    Matthews delivered a screed today about how the journasaurs should call out Mitt & the Surrogates for lying when they say Obama raised taxes, increased spending, apologizes for the US, etc. Easy for him to say, though, since none of those surrogates will come on his show.

  21. Exhausted66

    Would somebody pleeeeze dig up the footage of Tweety when President Buldge landed his plane on the aircraft carrier? I swear he ruined his pants on that day.

  22. James Michael Curley

    Ted Turner was one of the first, "I'm famous because my daddy left me a lot of money and I spend it on spectacular toys." like Trump and now Romney. So I have decades of very little reason to feel sorry for him. However, he lamented on the Charlie Rose show that he never would have sold the Turner News Network if he knew how it would have turned out as CNN. He was so remorseful I almost felt sorry for him.

  23. Beowoof

    I understand that diabetes can affect the ability to think. As Chris is a diabetic the answer would appear to be his ability to think has been negatively affected or more simply this dumb ass doesn't have clue.

  24. HempDogbane

    The list of big time news people who challenged that shit:

    A) Bill Moyers
    B)

    That's just off the top of my head. There's probably a whole bunch more. I don't watch the teevee, too, also.

  25. TootsStansbury

    Damnit Damnit all to hell – well OK Earth. Gods, this country is fucked up.

    I have to learn how to be funnier with this bullshit.

      1. TootsStansbury

        Thanks for that. Hey and we have something in common. I am a proud Grandma. We could trade the photos!

    1. fuflans

      'god this country is fucked up' is often quite amusing.

      i use it often when nothing else presents itself.

  26. PuckStopsHere

    Just who in the fuck does Chris Matthews think he is lying like this? Mitt Romney?

  27. Wile E. Quixote

    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.

    I'm not sure which makes me feel dirtier, Chris Matthews confessing that he feels a thrill going up his leg or Rich Lowry talking about starbursts. Say what you will about Walter Cronkite at least he never said "Wow, this moon landing sure does give me a huge boner. I'm going to need to go rub one out at the next commercial break."

    1. littlebigdaddy

      I heard that Chet Huntley used to get bjs under his desk while he was on air.

    2. Butch_Wagstaff

      "Those guys…oh yes! I wish they were landing on my moon, if you know what I mean!"

  28. taylormattd

    What a fucking psychopath. I mean really. Are we not supposed to remember his revolting fapping as Bush landed on the aircraft carrier? (from the commies at Media Matters):

    "He won the war. He was an effective commander. Everybody recognizes that, I believe, except a few critics. … He looks for real. … [H]e didn't fight in a war, but he looks like he does. … We're proud of our 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."

    Fap, fap, fap, fap, fap.

    1. Fare la Volpe

      Women like a guy who's president. Check it out. The women like this war

      Oh God, Chris just filled us in on his wank material. I think I'm going to be sick.

    2. Designer_Rants

      Sadly, I've probably said something stupider than this in my lifetime, but in my defense, I was probably drunk and on several powerful illicit drugs.

  29. littlebigdaddy

    As someone who has been on this site since the year dot, I remember around 2003-04 that Wonkette was one of the very few places where people expressed skepticism about W's warmongering.

    1. James Michael Curley

      Damn Straight! Not to forget the picture Ana Marie Cox put up highlighting the very large bulge in John Kerry's pants leg. That sure helped stop Bush's war of convenience.

  30. RavenRant

    Okay, Tweety is a doofus, and was a gullible sap on Iraq, but that last paragraph is one damn beautiful smackdown.

  31. Mumbly_Libel

    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.”

    That's a "yes", right?

  32. HobbesEvilTwin

    : He looks for real. What is it about the commander in chief role, the hat that he does wear, that makes him — I mean, he seems like — he didn't fight in a war, but he looks like he does.

    - Chris Matthews, May 1, 2003, fappity fap fap

  33. CapnFatback

    "AND IF CABLE NEWZ WAS AROUND DURING THE TIME OF LINCOLN, JOHN WILKES BOOTH WOULD HAVE NEVER STOOD A CHANCE, CUZ CABLE NEWZ WOULD HAVE KARATE-CHOPPED THE SHIT OUT OF THAT BULLET!"

  34. Fare la Volpe

    I was 13 when the Bushies were going full Genghis.

    I was dumb as rocks, but even I could tell it was all complete bullshit.

          1. Fare la Volpe

            Oh.

            Then I guess you really don't want hear that I'm a redhead and a moaner. Too bad, so sad.

  35. SayItWithWookies

    So this means that from now on we can expect Chris Matthews to question every premise, to challenge every false assertion, not to let some jackass come on his show and spout lie after lie while Chris smiles and nods? Okay, great — now that brings up one other question: Chris Matthews still has a show?

  36. poorgradstudent

    "For example," Matthews added. "Nancy Grace has done wonders in providing even-handed coverage of controversial criminal cases!"

  37. Billmatic

    What kind of media vacuum do we live in when we are saluting Phil Donahue's journalistic integrity.

  38. Andrew Drinker

    Yeah, I remember Chris Matthews at the time. He was busy yelling at Gore Vidal and Dennis Kucinich and telling them how wrong they were.

    Except they weren't wrong.

  39. ttommyunger

    Many children chatter incessantly, some women; that's OK. Men, however, do not, Chris…. they just don't.

Comments are closed.