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Once Upon A Time

echidneofthesnakess Icon Posted by Echidne of the Snakes

January 18th, 2008

There lived a political pundit called Chris Matthews. He had his very own show on television, intriguingly called “Hardball”, and the show attracted many famous and powerful politicians and many erudite and experienced analysts of politics. Matthews would chat with them on the topics of the day, often expressing iconoclastic and funny opinions. All his friends knew that he had a good heart and that he spoke too rapidly, but otherwise he was a prince among men. And he called it as he saw it. An upright reporter, a warm and compassionate human being, a famous celebrity. What’s not to like?

But the dark clouds were gathering over poor Chris’s blond tresses. An evil power, called The Media Matters for America, had laid its horrible never-blinking eye on Matthews and by much distortion and much smearing had managed to turn this prince of honesty and love into a caricature: a sexist.

And the forces of evil followed the power of the Evil Eye: feminists gathered, screeching in unbecoming voices, demanding a public humiliation of dear Chris, demanding an apology. And for what? For one single comment, taken out of context!

So the times of censorship had returned to attack the land of the free and the big-hearted and the rapidly speaking. All good men came to the aid of the oppressed Matthews to fight that horrible monster of yesteryear: political correctness reborn.

The above fairy tale is the conservative and anti-feminist reading of the famous Chris Matthews apology for making sexist comments about Senator Hillary Clinton. The storyline will be based on the assumption that Matthews blundered ONCE and that the issue is about freedom of speech and the rights of journalists to make statements without criticism, for any criticism of those statements is an attempt to muffle the journalists.

Now that you know the plot, it might be useful to find out what Matthews’ statements about women in general might teach us. Did he just make one unfortunate mistake? Nope. Instead, Matthews has a history of treating women as either sex-objects, night-time monsters with toothed vaginas or as Stepford wives. He also appears to believe that a gender war is the way to report on politics in general, and that he is firmly fighting on the side of the men. If this is not sexism I’m not sure what is.

Let’s have a closer look on some of the things that Matthews has said about women as sex objects:

On the attractiveness of Ann Coulter:


CHRIS MATTHEWS: Do you find her physically attractive, Tucker?

TUCKER CARLSON: I’m not going to answer that, because the answer, I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. That’s not the point.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Positively.

RITA COSBY: Don’t ask me that question.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Mike, do you want to weigh in here as an older fellow. Do you find her to be a physically attractive woman?

MIKE BARNICLE: I’m too old to be doing that. I had enough fights in my life.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: OK, Rita, do you find her to be a physically attractive woman?

RITA COSBY: I’ll throw it back to you, Chris, do you find her attractive?

CHRIS MATTHEWS: You guys are all afraid to answer. No, I find her—I wouldn’t put her—well, she doesn’t pass the Chris Matthews test.

On the attractiveness of Michele Obama:


* During coverage of a presidential debate last spring, NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell was compelled to remind Matthews that Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) wife, Michelle, is a Harvard-educated lawyer after he focused obsessively on her physical appearance.

And on the attractiveness of female guests on his show:


On Hardball, Chris Matthews told CNBC anchor Erin Burnett: “[Y]ou’re beautiful” and “[y]ou’re a knockout,” before closing their interview by saying, “It’s all right getting bad news from you.”

Matthews gushes over Ingraham’s looks, book [sic] in which she writes about threat to power of “shared American culture” from porous borders
Matthews opened the interview with Ingraham by saying, “You are — I’m not allowed to say this, but I’ll say it — you’re beautiful and you’re smart. And you’ve got a huge radio audience.” When the interview ended, he asked: “Can I sing your praises?” adding, “I get in trouble for this, but you’re great looking, obviously. You’re one of the gods’ gifts to men in this country. But also, you are a hell of a writer.”During the interview, Matthews also stated: “But it is interesting; all day long on this network and others, I’m seeing pictures of Britney Spears. … [S]he is showing no talent. She’s showing her body. She’s obviously a good-looking young woman, wearing very little.”

Then there is the Chris Matthews female voice test. How does one pass that?

Nancy Pelosi does not and neither does Hillary Clinton:


Discussing the victory speeches of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) during MSNBC’s special election coverage on November 7, co-anchor Chris Matthews told Republican pollster Frank Luntz that Clinton gave a “barn-burner speech, which is harder to give for a woman; it can grate on some men when they listen to it — fingernails on a blackboard.” Matthews then noted that Pelosi, who will likely be elected House speaker now that the Democrats have gained control of the U.S. House of Representatives, will “have to do the good fight with the president over issues” such as the minimum wage and prescription drugs. He then asked: “How does she do it without screaming? How does she do it without becoming grating?”

Or perhaps Hillary Clinton does, after all?


MATTHEWS: Bob, didn’t you think she had a nice, mellifluous voice there? She was calm, she was charming, her hair looked just to be cosmetic, her hair looked great, she looked great. Can she soften her image from the more strident Hillary and do well without it?

Note that Chris Matthews has never discussed the voices of male politicians from this deep and analytical angle.

Then there are the comments about women as castrating monsters:


Matthews asked about Clinton endorsers’ “willingness” “to become castratos in the eunuch chorus” — December 17, 2007
On the December 17 edition of MSNBC’s Hardball, host Chris Matthews claimed: “Every day I pick up the paper and there’s another quote out there from somebody who’s a wannabe, saying whatever the Clinton people told them to say apparently.” Moments later, Matthews asked Financial Times U.S. managing editor Chrystia Freeland: “[A]ren’t you appalled at the willingness of these people to become castratos in the eunuch chorus here or whatever they are?” Matthews made the comment in the context of discussing endorsements of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and specifically that of former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE), who made reference following a December 16 campaign event to, among other things, Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) middle name.

Matthews and others on NBC networks have repeatedly linked Clinton to fictional Nurse Ratched — December 7, 2007
On Hardball, Chris Matthews asked about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), “[D]oes she look like Nurse Ratched here?” referencing a character in Ken Kesey’s novel and the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, who has been described as a “scheming, manipulative agent” who “asserts arbitrary control simply because she can.” In fact, Matthews and others on programs on NBC, MSNBC, and CNBC have a long history of associating Clinton with Nurse Ratched.

Chris Matthews teased segment by asking whether Clinton is a “She Devil” — November 19, 2007
On the November 18 edition of the NBC-syndicated Chris Matthews Show, host Chris Matthews teased a discussion by asking, ” ‘She Devil?’ Republicans are absolutely demonizing [Sen.] Hillary Clinton [D-NY].” While he spoke, an image of Clinton appeared on screen with the words “She Devil?” below it. Later, an image of Clinton with devil horns appeared on screen while Matthews stated: “We did poll our people and asked 12 of our regular panelists, is it smart politics for Republicans to demonize Hillary Clinton, get real personal about it? Eleven say yes. Just one say, no, it’s not smart.”

Matthews referred to Hillary Clinton as “sort of a Madame Defarge of the left” — April 25, 2005
MSNBC host Chris Matthews referred to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) as “sort of a Madame Defarge of the left” — a slur previously advanced by conservative syndicated columnist and CNN host Robert Novak, MSNBC political analyst and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, and MSNBC host Monica Crowley.

And:


* In November 2006, shortly after the Democrats took the majority in Congress, Matthews asked a guest if then-presumptive speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was “going to castrate Steny Hoyer” if Hoyer (D-MD) were elected House majority leader.

The fear of vagina dentata? Never mind, these are sexist comments.

Paradoxically, women are both frightening monsters and Stepford wives totally managed by their husbands. This is especially true of Hillary Clinton:


After vowing not to underestimate Clinton, Matthews asserted, “[T]he reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around” — January 9, 2008
During MSNBC’s coverage of the New Hampshire Democratic primary, Hardball host Chris Matthews stated, “I will never underestimate Hillary Clinton again.” But Matthews asserted on MSNBC’s Morning Joe the next day, “[T]he reason she’s a U.S. senator, the reason she’s a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around.”

Matthews’ post-debate analysis: “Let me tell you how short Hillary’s leash is” — September 27, 2007
During MSNBC’s analysis of the September 26 Democratic presidential debate at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, while discussing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), host Chris Matthews said to moderator Tim Russert, “Let me tell you how short Hillary’s leash is. She was asked by you, sir, about whether we’re going to get full disclosure of contributors to presidential libraries. And she did not feel that she had the latitude in her husband’s absence to give you an answer.” Matthews continued, “She said, ‘You’ll have to ask my husband.’ As if you’re a guy going door to door trying to sell something and says, ‘You’ll have to wait for my husband to get home.’ ” Matthews began to ask, “Do you think she’s that much –” but then stopped and asserted, “[N]ever mind, let’s just drop this.”


Matthews on Clinton: “How many times is she going to be confused by men?” — February 16, 2007
On the February 15 edition of MSNBC’s Hardball, host Chris Matthews, during a discussion with National Review Washington editor Kate O’Beirne and Democratic strategist Steve McMahon about whether Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) will say her vote for the 2002 resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq was a mistake, asked: “How come she still pretends that she didn’t know [President Bush] was going to war? It’s like she didn’t know anything about Bill [Clinton] and his behavior. How many times is she going to be confused by men?”

And women, especially feminist women, are a frightening army of gender-warriors:


On the December 17 edition of MSNBC’s Hardball, host Chris Matthews said of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), “She may have gotten The Des Moines Register’s endorsement the other day, thanks to her husband’s lobbying with its female editors and publisher, but voters have spotted the dagger, and they don’t like what it looks like.” Matthews went on to say, “Hillary’s loyal lieutenants are ready to scratch the eyes out of the opposition right now.”


Matthews and National Journal’s Douglass on Clinton’s “anti-male thing” — November 2, 2007
During the November 1 edition of MSNBC’s Hardball, while discussing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-NY) speech at Wellesley College, her alma mater, in which she asserted, “In so many ways, this all-women’s college prepared me to compete in the all-boys club of presidential politics,” host Chris Matthews asked: “Is this pandering or playing to the Seven Sisters crowd up at these all-women’s colleges, where there may be that sort of mood if you’re — and they all want dates. I assume a lot of them do, on weekends. But this anti-male thing, is that something that’s particularly something you can sort of spruce up, you can play up, up there?” Matthews opened the segment by asking his guests — National Journal contributing editor Linda Douglass and NBC News political director Chuck Todd — “Don’t you both agree, Linda, that she should just lighten up on this gender — ‘the boys are coming to get me’ routine?” Douglass replied: “I think, in this case, she’s making a really big mistake, because now she’s ventured into feminist territory where the man is the enemy.”

Does this suffice to show that Matthew’s comment about Hillary Clinton getting to be a Senator just because her husband cheated on her was not a solitary and atypical slip of the tongue? If not, let me know and I will post more quotes from Chris Matthews on the “sensitive” topic of women.

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