August 25, 2004

The Malkin Incident

As I’ve mentioned before, I still don’t have cable in my new apartment, so I’ve largely missed the last three weeks of cable news- which I estimate to have contained roughly 75 segments on the Swift Boat Vets, 65 segments on Laci Peterson, and 15 Fox News interviews with Illinois Senate “underdog” Alan Keyes. On Thursday night, having not brought a CD to the gym, I listened to “Hardball” while on the treadmill- Michelle Malkin was the guest, and you all know what happened next.

I blogged about the segment when I got home that night before I read any other analysis or the transcript, and wrote about Malkin’s response the following morning. In linking to the latter I sent a trackback to Malkin’s blog, leading at least 400 of her readers here that day alone- especially after her post was linked from Drudge, mentioned on Limbaugh, and discussed throughout the rest of the conservative echo chamber. I mostly found the whole thing amusing- especially some of the tortured, pretzel-like rationalizations people used to defend Malkin’s virtually indefensible position. But still, it’s a bit distracting to get through a work day when you’re getting hate-mail every 20 minutes.

A few comments on the matter; since it’s been five days, I don’t intend to address this topic again. All italicized passages are from actual comments I’ve received:

1. If I ever went on a national television talk show and the host misrepresented or misunderstood something that I said, I can tell you unequivocally that I would correct them- immediately- if only to set the record straight. I wouldn’t resist a single opportunity- much less ten of them- to answer a yes/no question about the misrepresentation, and I sure as hell wouldn’t wait until the next morning- on my blog- to correct it.

Malkin claims that she never said Kerry purposely wounded himself, and technically she’s correct- those words never came out of her mouth. But when confronted with the idea that she would make such a serious accusation- one totally unsupported by evidence- she not only refused to say “no,” but she claimed- falsely- that the Swift Boat Veterans had previously made that accusation themselves. They haven’t, in their book or anywhere else. And when asked to produce a witness to back up her point, she named two soldiers who are pro-Kerry.

The question Malkin or any of her supporters is yet to address is, if Matthews claimed she said something she didn’t, why didn’t she just say “no, that’s not what I believe”?

2. Was Matthews tough on Malkin? Absolutely- that’s why the show is called “Hardball.” But he barely raised his voice during the entire exchange, and his act of badgering a guest who refused to answer a simple yes-no question was no different from what Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity do to liberal guests every single night.

3. “Left-wing shill” Chris Matthews voted for George W. Bush in 2000- which by itself would disqualify him from any Democratic-shill gathering I know of- referred to Bill Clinton regularly as a “hick,” and has in recent months made regular practice of demolishing lefties from Michael Moore to Terry McAuliffe. In fact, the last time I saw him this angry at a guest was on election night in 2002, when he exploded at former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile after she made fun of Tom DeLay for being a former exterminator.

Matthews is a committed centrist who is one of the few remaining political analysts who calls issues and political races as he sees them, one who clearly loves the political process and possesses seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of American political history. That’s why his show remains the best one on cable television for political junkies.

4. Michelle Malkin was verbally ASSAULTED by Chris Matthews!
Michelle Malkin has built her entire career around the act of viciously attacking other people –whether it’s individuals or entire races or nationalities that she wants to toss into camps. Either she's an extremely hateful individual, or she merely plays one on TV.

Either way, I’m sorry if her feelings are hurt by Matthews who is, in the four years that I’ve been aware of Malkin, the first person I’ve ever seen actually challenge her. For someone who referred in print to Ana Marie Cox and Jessica Cutler as “vain, young, trash-mouthed skanks,” it’s refreshing to see that Malkin is all of a sudden demanding greater civility in public discourse.

5. When Kerry makes his Vietnam service a centerpiece of the convention and his campaign as a hole, I think it might be wise to give said service a proper vetting.
I absolutely agree. But give it a fair vetting. Not a Republican-funded vetting in which no one seems to be able to keep their story straight from what it was two years ago.

6. [Matthews] gave her ten chances to confirm or deny the truth of actions she didn't witness?
That’s a fabulous argument, that can really justify any public rumor-mongering of any kind. Even though there’s no evidence whatsoever that Kerry faked his injuries, and no one is even alleging it, how can Malkin say it didn’t happen? By that rationale, I should go on a talk show and say I heard that George W. Bush had sex with a monkey in 1974. After all, how do you know it’s not true? You weren’t there!

7. I think Matthews and Oberman [sic] have to be to of the most ill prepared[sic] and ill informed [sic] hosts on television.
Yes, that’s always bothered me about “Oberman”- that he’s “ill informed.”

8. George W. Bush could not have served in Vietnam even if he wanted to because of his father's involvement in the CIA
That’s a good one. Might be my favorite of all. If it were true, wouldn’t Bush have been screaming it from the mountaintops since at least ’99?

Posted by Stephen Silver at August 25, 2004 02:21 AM

I would bet my gonads against a penny that Chris Matthews did not vote for GWB in 2000. I don't know where you got that information, but everything I have seen and heard from Matthews the last five years makes that impossible to believe. I agree that he was once a balanced, sober voice of the left, but those days are gone. Whether due to incredibly poor ratings, his dislike of GWB, his affection for Kerry, or pressures from other parties, Matthews has become a political hack who is just slightly more rational than Paul Begala--which is saying very little.

Posted by: DBrooks at August 30, 2004 03:40 PM
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