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Thursday, May 17, 2007
Context, Please (Update)
Topic: NewsBusters

Yep, we suspected right -- Mark Finkelstein's ellipses in a May 16 NewsBusters post on Chris Matthews eliminates a lot of context, according to our check of the transcript of the edition at hand of "Hardball."

Here's Finkelstein's quote of Matthews focusing on John McCain:

MSNBC HOST CHRIS MATTHEWS: Last night in Columbia, South Carolina, the two GOP frontrunners showed profiles in courage: McCain opposing torture, Giuliani defending abortion rights. . . Here's Senator McCain on the issue of torture last night; I was very taken with these words . . . You know, I don't offer strong opinions all the time on this show [of course not], I usually bow to the guests. But I am so taken with that . . . I know he scored, Chuck [NBC political director Todd] no points last night but he scored one with me . . . Anybody's who's ever been in uniform is against torture, and it's the pencil necks, if you will, the armchair generals who always like wars a lot except when they or their family members might be in those wars.

The ellipsis between the first and second statements is, in fact, about a 10-minute gap. The first statement was made during the show's introduction, while the second statement was made at the start of the second segment.

Finkelstein lops off the relevent part of the third statement, thus eliminating the context of exactly why Matthews was "so taken" with McCain's opposition to torture. Here's Matthews' full statement:

MATTHEWS: You know, I have to tell you, I don't offer strong opinions all the time on this show -- I usually bow to the guests -- but I am so taken with that, Chuck, so taken with that, Jonathan, because of all the men on that stage, he's the one who has served in combat.  He shows the sign of torture in his arms.  You can see where his arms were pinned back in the way he can‘t use them now. He apparently can't even comb his hair, this guy. He can't raise his hand. We were told, "Don't ask the candidates to raise their hands," in their debate out in California.  And there he is saying torture must not be American. And all the other guys played to that crowd down there -- there was hooting and hollering for blood down there -- saying they were for "enhanced interrogation," all enjoying it.  And this guy -- I know he scored no points, Chuck, last night, but he scored one with me. He stood alone.

Finkelstein portrayed McCain's (and Matthews') anti-torture position as "liberal." We're not seeing it.

UPDATE: We forgot to note that Finkelstein ended his post by complaining that  Matthews "opened the show by referring to AG Alberto Gonzales as a Bush 'henchman.'" You mean skulking around a hospital trying to get a seriously ill attorney general to sign off on an unconstitutional eavesdropping program is not henchman-like behavior?

Posted by Terry K. at 7:13 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, May 18, 2007 8:00 PM EDT

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