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Saturday, January 6, 2007
Finkelstein Misleads on Matthews' 'Anger'
Topic: NewsBusters

A Jan. 4 NewsBusters post by Mark Finkelstein claims there was a "a very rare display of real anger" between Chris Matthews and Matt Lauer during MSNBC's coverage of the swearing-in of the new Democratic-controlled Congress. In Finkelstein's words (boldface and italics are his):

Lauer: "Well, but, you say they're going to try to finesse it. In reality, Chris, they don't have a choice. What are they going to do, suggest they cut funding while troops are still in the ground in Iraq? They can't do that."

That got Matthews's Irish up. Clearly flashing some anger, he responded: "Well, that's a political assessment by you, Matt. I think the Democrats have to decide whether they want to climb aboard this catastrophe or not."

That transcript, and the video Finkelstein supplies, conveniently cuts off at that point -- thus avoiding having to show evidence that undermines his claim about Matthews' "anger." Here's the full excerpt of what Matthews said:

MATTHEWS: Well, that’s a political assessment by you, Matt. I think the Democrats have to decide whether they wanna climb aboard this catastrophe or not. Do they want to be partners in the continued war in Iraq? That’s a tough call. I agree with you. It’s a tough call to say, “We’re gonna stand up to the president, say he cannot fight the war the way he wants to fight it.” But the other alternative is that they go along with the war, and they become partners in this war for the next two years.

That's right -- mere seconds after Matthews was purportedly "angry" with Lauer, Matthews said to him, "I agree with you." That doesn't sound very angry to us. And even the truncated video Finkelstein supplies doesn't exactly show the anger he claims is there; the boldfacing and italicizing he added to the transcript isn't reflected in what they say.

Finkelstein tries to finesse it by claiming, "Matthews later struck a more conciliatory tone with Lauer, but the initial anger was unmistakable." Well, no. If Finkelstein had supplied his readers with the full video, they would have seen that, too.

Finkelstein has been on a Matthews-bashing tear of late, insisting that Matthews is a unreformed liberal (despite ample evidence to the contrary):

  • From a Jan. 3 post: " As a former aide to Tip O'Neill, Chris Matthews is accustomed to offering advice to Democratic Speakers of House.
  • A Jan. 5 post asks, "Has anyone checked the video to see if Chris Matthews was part of Cindy Sheehan's noisy protest that brought Rahm Emanuel's press conference to a halt the other day at the Capitol? Because Matthews has been on an absolute anti-war rampage."
  • Another Jan. 5 post attacks Matthews through NBC's Andrea Mitchell: "With due respect to Mitchell, whose scrappiness I admire, if someone won't admit that Chris Matthews is liberal, why should we believe her when she tells us it's raining?"

Right back atcha, Mark: If you can't admit that Matthews has also attacked liberals and praised Republicans, why should we think that you're anything more than a demagogic automaton?

UPDATE: Finkelstein's biased misinformation continues: In a Jan. 6 post, he takes a swipe at NBC for its "official line" that Iraq is in a "civil war." But he -- either here or in a Nov. 27 post by him to which he links in support -- offers no evidence to refute NBC's claim.


Posted by Terry K. at 2:25 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, January 6, 2007 10:27 AM EST

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