Thursday, August 19, 2004

Fooling with facts

I've been pretty hard on Chris Matthews in the past, so giving credit where it's due: His Hardball show tonight demonstrated what happens when you finally act like a real journalist. The propagandists are exposed for the fools and liars they are.

Tonight he first took apart Swift Boat Liar Larry Thurlow, who of course had been exposed earlier by the Washington Post as a lying micreant. Indeed, it seems that Thurlow all along has been testifying against his own Bronze Star, since he wouldn't have received the medal if not for the same small-arms fire that played a significant role in Kerry's medal.

In any event, Matthews continued his recent trend of returning to his journalistic roots by going after the fact-challenged Michelle Malkin in a similar fashion.

Matthews didn't stop everything. For instance, there was this tidbit from Malkin:
MALKIN: Well, second of all, you brought up Willie Horton. I think that's quite interesting that you did. The underlying implication is that some how this is a Republican orchestrated thing, just like the swift boat campaign. Of course, it was Al Gore who brought up Willie Horton first.

Bzzzt! Sorry, Michelle, but you've been caught lying again! As Bob Somerby has demonstrated (on multiple occasions) beyond any reasonable doubt, that's simply a false statement. It's true that, in the 1988 campaign, Gore did first raise the issue of the Massachusetts furlough program. But he never mentioned Willie Horton. And the Willie Horton ads were only a problem not because they raised the (somewhat legitimate) furlough issue, but because they were a clear-cut case of race-baiting and denigrating stereotypes.

Matthews didn't mention this, and proceeded accordingly. But it wasn't before long that Malkin really put her foot in it -- or, more precisely, made a fool of herself on national television:
MALKIN: Well, yes. Why don't people ask him more specific questions about the shrapnel in his leg. They are legitimate questions about whether or not it was a self-inflicted wound.


MATTHEWS: What do you mean by self-inflicted? Are you saying he shot himself on purpose? Is that what you're saying?

MALKIN: Did you read the book...

MATTHEWS: I'm asking a simple question. Are you saying that he shot himself on purpose.

MALKIN: I'm saying some of these soldiers...

MATTHEWS: And I'm asking [the] question.

MALKIN: And I'm answering it.

MATTHEWS: Did he shoot himself on purpose?

MALKIN: Some of the soldiers have made allegations that these were self-inflicted wounds.

MATTHEWS: No one has ever accused him of shooting himself on purpose.

MALKIN: That these were self-inflicted wounds.

MATTHEWS: You're saying there are -- he shot himself on purpose? That's a criminal act.

MALKIN: I'm saying that I've read the book and some of the...


MATTHEWS: I want an answer yes or no, Michelle.

MALKIN: Some of the veterans say...

MATTHEWS: No. No one has ever accused him of shooting himself on purpose.

MALKIN: Yes. Some of them say that.

MATTHEWS: Tell me where that...

MALKIN: Self-inflicted wounds -- in February, 1969.

MATTHEWS: This is not a show for this kind of talk. Are you accusing him of shooting himself on purpose to avoid combat or to get credit?

MALKIN: I‘m saying that's what some of these...

MATTHEWS: Give me a name.

MALKIN: Patrick Runyan (ph) and William Zeldonaz (ph).

MATTHEWS: They said—Patrick Runyan...

MALKIN: These people have...

MATTHEWS: And they said he shot himself on purpose to avoid combat or take credit for a wound?

MALKIN: These people have cast a lot of doubt on whether or not...

MATTHEWS: That's cast a lot of doubt. That's complete nonsense.

MALKIN: Did you read the section in the book...

MATTHEWS: I want a statement from you on this program, say to me right, that you believe he shot himself to get credit for a Purple Heart.

MALKIN: I'm not sure. I'm saying...

MATTHEWS: Why did you say?

MALKIN: I'm talking about what's in the book.

MATTHEWS: What is in the book. Is there -- is there a direct accusation in any book you've ever read in your life that says John Kerry ever shot himself on purpose to get credit for a Purple Heart? On purpose?


MATTHEWS: On purpose? Yes or no, Michelle.

MALKIN: In the February 1969 -- in the February 1969 event.

MATTHEWS: Did he say on it purpose.

MALKIN: There are doubts about whether or not it was intense rifle fire or not. And I wish you would ask these questions of John Kerry instead of me.

MATTHEWS: I have never heard anyone say he shot himself on purpose. I haven't heard you say it.

MALKIN: Have you tried to ask -- have you tried ask John Kerry these questions?

MATTHEWS: If he shot himself on purpose? No. I have not asked him that.

MALKIN: Don't you wonder?

MATTHEWS: No, I don't. It's never occurred to me.

What I especially liked about this exchange is that Matthews finally demonstrated that he won't put up with the standard conservative-pundit practice: make an outrageous accusation, then soft-pedal and pretend that it's all just legitimate questioning, and hey look over there! Isn't that another non-sequitur?

Oh, and why exactly did Michelle duck out from the rest of the show? It sounded like Matthews was planning to come back to her. And she never did get to plug her new book. [UPDATE: Michelle says she was booted off. Note the snide reference to "basement ratings." Wotta pieca work.]

It used to be infuriating watching Matthews' show and seeing Hitchens, Coulter, Sullivan and that whole crowd simply waltz away with a free propaganda ride. I have no idea what finally turned Matthews' old juices back on, but this (combined with his recent exchange with Bush propagandist Matthew Dowd) are certainly welcome signs. When he was just doing a column, Matthews was a solid reporter and smart analyst, but it all seemed to fly out the window once he got the MSNBC gig. Nice to see some hints of it resurface.

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