Matthews Compares Trump to Hiss, Nicholson in ‘A Few Good Men’; ‘He’s Against the Idea of Reporting!’

After a hectic Thursday of media meltdowns reacting to President Trump’s press conference, the lunacy was still flowing on MSNBC’s Hardball. In less than 20 minutes, host Chris Matthews compared a “manic” Trump to Jack Nicholson from A Few Good Men and Alger Hiss attempting to wiggle his way out of being deemed a Soviet spy.

Those comparisons weren’t without plenty of whining from the MSNBC pundit. Speaking to his first panel of the night, Matthews lamented that he’s attacking the whole media and “not...a reporter for making a mistake” because “[e]verybody makes mistakes and there are no angels in the press” or “devils.”

Matthews added with the same sort of self-aggrandizement that his cohorts possessed all day:

There’s just people doing their jobs under the First Amendment. What is he up to? Why is he attacking all media, all the time except his favs, like Fox & Friends and Krauthammer — the neocon writer. He’s a smart guy. He only picks out those few that he thinks have been selling him lately.

New York Times reporter Yamiche Alcindor agreed, fretting that “[t]his is really about delegitimizing the press and I think a lot of it has to do with the idea that, later on, if we uncover something like — maybe more that there is more to the Russia story.”

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In a sign that media won’t be changing their ways, Alcindor admitted that Trump’s attacks on the media make the industry “want[ing] to dig even deeper.” 

Ignoring the fact that Barack Obama barely (if ever) accepted responsibility whenever he didn’t get his way, Politico’s Eli Stokols complained: “Well, I mean, he's passing the buck. He takes no responsibility. He says we inherited all of this.”

Out of the blue, Matthews exclaimed seconds later: “It seems like he’s against the idea of reporting!”

The kooky was just getting started as Matthews went on to invoke Nicholson’s role as Col. Nathan R. Jessup in 1992's A Few Good Men and described Trump as “manic” in his behavior:

I don’t know if it — not quite manic. I’m not going to go that far, but there was sort of an element of, you know, Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men — like, you know: “You can't handle the truth.” And he comes out and it’s almost — id is showing. You know, a lot of id. A lot of just psychic, ‘this is what I can't sleep at night about. This is what bugging me.’ It was very — there was no BS to it tonight. He honestly, obviously believes everything he said today — the way he said it — it was so manic or almost manic.

Stokols agreed:

He talked about the tone. He was kind of admonishing the media. ‘You know, your tone is negative.’ And there’s something in that. I mean, what he does with his tone, is he — you know — sounds like a guidance counselor....he’s sort of takes the edge off a little bit about what he is saying so he doesn't sound like Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men. And in so doing, you don’t notice the authoritarianism[.]

In the next segment, Matthews welcomed on Senator Angus King (I-Maine) by suggesting Trump’s rhetoric mirrored that of Hiss from when he was accused of being a Soviet spy.

“You know, to the best of my knowledge — that — that dodge was something Alger Hiss used in the old hearings back in 1948 when he got caught — eventually — as a spy for the Soviet Union. Not to the best of my knowledge, not to the best of my recollection — these are ways to avoid perjury. They are not truth-telling, generally,” observed Matthews.

Here are the relevant portions of the transcript from MSNBC’s Hardball on February 16:

MSNBC’s Hardball
February 16, 2017
7:03 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS MATTHEWS: First of all, this attack on the media. He does it generally. He basic — I want to get to this at the end of the show, he’s not attacking a reporter for making a mistake. Everybody makes mistakes and there are no angels in the press. There’s no devils. There’s just people doing their jobs under the First Amendment. What is he up to? Why is he attacking all media, all the time except his favs, like Fox & Friends and Krauthammer — the neocon writer. He’s a smart guy. He only picks out those few that he thinks have been selling him lately.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: This is really about delegitimizing the press and I think a lot of it has to do with the idea that, later on, if we uncover something like — maybe more that there is more to the Russia story or that there was some issue with coordination between his campaign and Russia that people aren’t going to believe us. He wants to believe — he wants to make the media seems as though we’ve been attacking him and anything that we write — it’s really just to take away — take away the presidency from him. And I think he’s — I think, in some ways, it's working, but a lot of ways it's really just making the media want to dig even deeper.

MATTHEWS: Yeah. Eli.

ELI STOKOLS: Well, I mean, he's passing the buck. He takes no responsibility. He says we inherited all of this. He says that we didn’t — our executive order wasn’t botched. We just got a bad court. Asked about the Russia thing, he basically said, ‘well, I don’t know. I didn't talk to any of them.’ I mean, he has no answers to these questions and so he has to create this motive for the press and ask —

MATTHEWS: Well, what about what Yamiche said? It seems like he’s against the idea of reporting.

(....)

MATTHEWS: There was something. There was something. I don’t know if it — not quite manic. I’m not going to go that far, but there was sort of an element of, you know, Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men — like, you know: “You can't handle the truth.” And he comes out and it’s almost — id is showing. You know, a lot of id. A lot of just psychic, ‘this is what I can't sleep at night about. This is what bugging me.’ It was very — there was no BS to it tonight. He honestly, obviously believes everything he said today — the way he said it — it was so manic or almost manic.

(....)

STOKOLS: And it’s interesting though. He talked about the tone. He was kind of admonishing the media. ‘You know, your tone is negative.’ And there’s something in that. I mean, what he does with his tone, is he — you know — sounds like a guidance counselor. He sounds like someone who is trying to help you. It’s a little patronizing, but he’s sort of takes the edge off a little bit about what he is saying so he doesn't sound like Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men. And in so doing, you don’t notice the authoritarianism in the like, undermining of the media. He’s telling the media, ‘stop coming after me.’

(....)

MATTHEWS: You know, to the best of my knowledge — that — that dodge was something Alger Hiss used in the old hearings back in 1948 when he got caught — eventually — as a spy for the Soviet Union. Not to the best of my knowledge, not to the best of my recollection — these are ways to avoid perjury. They are not truth-telling, generally. 

CyberAlerts Russia Media Bias Debate Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Movies MSNBC Hardball Video Journalistic Issues Government & Press Alger Hiss Yamiche Alcindor Chris Matthews Donald Trump Jack Nicholson
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