July 25, 2004: Headlines: COS - Swaziland: Journalism: Television: Houston Chronicle: Swaziland RPCV Chris Matthews is the closest thing to Mort Sahl, who at his peak in the 1950s and '60s stood on nightclub stages with a newspaper, deconstructing and deflating politicians of all stripes

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Swaziland: Special Report: RPCV Journalist Chris Matthews: Chris Matthews: Archived Stories: July 25, 2004: Headlines: COS - Swaziland: Journalism: Television: Houston Chronicle: Swaziland RPCV Chris Matthews is the closest thing to Mort Sahl, who at his peak in the 1950s and '60s stood on nightclub stages with a newspaper, deconstructing and deflating politicians of all stripes

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-141-157-22-73.balt.east.verizon.net - 141.157.22.73) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 12:06 am: Edit Post

Swaziland RPCV Chris Matthews is the closest thing to Mort Sahl, who at his peak in the 1950s and '60s stood on nightclub stages with a newspaper, deconstructing and deflating politicians of all stripes

Swaziland RPCV Chris Matthews is the closest thing to Mort Sahl, who at his peak in the 1950s and '60s stood on nightclub stages with a newspaper, deconstructing and deflating politicians of all stripes

Swaziland RPCV Chris Matthews is the closest thing to Mort Sahl, who at his peak in the 1950s and '60s stood on nightclub stages with a newspaper, deconstructing and deflating politicians of all stripes

Host Chris Matthews wants some straight answers
By BOB BAKER
Los Angeles Times

Chris Matthews: You realize you're running for president of the United States, which is a house.

Ralph Nader: Yes.

Matthews: It will be the first house you've ever lived in since you were a kid. You live in an apartment. You don't have a car. You're not married. You live a life that's about as responsible as what's on the movies tonight. I mean, that's all you have to worry about. And you're going to be president of the United States, and you're knocking President Bush for not being mature enough?

Nader: Chris, no wonder they parody you on Saturday Night Live.

Hardball, Jan. 23

Chris Matthews is evolving. "This last week I didn't interrupt hardly the whole week," he says earnestly. "I found that if I keep scaring them that I am going to interrupt, they talk faster."

Matthews is the host of what is arguably the most entertaining political show on television, Hardball, a favorite of insiders and political junkies and just about no one else. The MSNBC show drew an average of 470,000 viewers in prime time in June, according to Nielsen ratings, less than a quarter of the crowd Bill O'Reilly attracts. But those who tune in always get what they come for: a fast-talking, inside-baseball-loving information machine, a guy who thinks it's interesting to compare the policy involvement of Nancy Reagan, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Laura Bush on a scale of 1 through 10, who spits questions like darts, who does not hesitate to badger or cut off guests in his quest for a plain-spoken answer.

Fodder for 'SNL'
Hardball is so intense that his bulging-eye, cougarlike persona became fodder years ago for a Saturday Night Live impersonator, Darrell Hammond, whose out-of-control Matthews once warned his audience: "Stick around. I'm going to go outside to shout at cars."

But give Matthews credit. At 58, still full of exuberance, he's trying to refine himself. In moments when he might once have broken into a guest's answer to keep up Hardball's manic pace, he now utters an affirmative-sounding grunt or says "right" under his breath, hopeful the long-winded guest will take the hint.

He has grown increasingly annoyed at the refusal or inability of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry to distance himself from President Bush's decision to go to war with Iraq. So today Matthews asks Kerry adviser Richard Holbrooke, the U.N. ambassador under President Clinton, to ponder this question: If Kerry had known then that Bush's intelligence assumptions were so apparently flawed, would he have had the guts to vote against giving the president authorization?

Holbrooke won't bite on a hypothetical question. Which drives Matthews nuts.

"Why is that a hard thing to answer?" he demands. "If the reason for the war was the threat to the United States and we find out there was no threat to the United States, then it's simple. You say, 'If I had known that, I wouldn't have authorized going to war.' "

"One of the reasons I enjoy doing your program," Holbrooke replies good-naturedly, echoing the sentiment of many of Matthews' guests, "is that you answer your own questions so I don't have to do it for you."

Like Mort Sahl
In a political world turned bitter and humorless by a tightly divided electorate and a polarizing war, Matthews is the closest thing to Mort Sahl, who at his peak in the 1950s and '60s stood on nightclub stages with a newspaper, deconstructing and deflating politicians of all stripes. Sahl was a satirist by trade.

Matthews, by contrast, is a serious guy, a former congressional staffer, presidential speechwriter and newspaper columnist, a big (6-foot-3) white-haired man with a serious countenance and a grating voice whose one-syllable laugh "Ha!" explodes out of nowhere and quickly recedes.

Yet his love of history and argument and his impatience with robotic "talking points" make Hardball as much topical entertainment as a public-affairs show. It's a sensibility that will be on display today when he begins anchoring five hours of nightly coverage during the four-day Democratic convention in Boston.

Switched parties
Matthews was raised a Republican, but the Kennedy assassination, Vietnam and a stint in the Peace Corps made him a Democrat. He wound up writing speeches for Jimmy Carter and becoming the top aide to Democratic House Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill during the Reagan administration. Yet no one has raised his hackles like Democrat Bill Clinton. As much as he anticipates Clinton's address to the Democratic convention on Monday night, he can't help deriding him. For years, Democrat after Democrat on Hardball has been forced to pass a Clinton litmus test.

Matthews was impressed by Bush's post-Sept. 11 leadership. "As long as George Bush is the voice and face of America and says, 'We're going to get the people that did this,' he's going to be popular," he said six weeks after the attack.

Believing that the war with Iraq diverted from that mission, Matthews soon soured on Bush as commander in chief. In retrospect, he says, "Two years before the war, we were hit with a blanket of lies no, I'll be careful untruths."

He says he wishes he lived in a country where people argued about going to war as intensely as they argue over Shaq-versus-Kobe in bars, or the way they argue with their spouses. "There is something in the discussion (of whether to go to war with Iraq) that is incomplete. I don't know when the president decided to go to war. I've read all the books and it's not there. ... A war is different than having an argument, than an embargo. ... When you as a country declare an act of war, you have to meet a standard of fact and truth."




Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Houston Chronicle

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Swaziland; Journalism; Television

PCOL12534
68

.


Add a Message


This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.
Username:  
Password:
E-mail: