Did Chris Matthews, on his September 24th edition of "Hardball," really hear Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "allow" that there was a Holocaust? This is what he insisted to New York City Councilman David Weprin:
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s talk about that very point. The hottest issue of the last century, of course, and the worst case of inhumanity to man, of course, is the Holocaust. I listened carefully to him. And I know you did, sir. Didn‘t you hear him allow the fact that there was, in fact, a Holocaust?
WEPRIN: Well, he—his statement today was different than his statement in the past.
WEPRIN: In the past, he‘s clearly said that the Holocaust was a hoax, it never existed. Now he‘s talking about doing more research. There‘s no question...
MATTHEWS: Don‘t—don‘t—I‘m not asking you to agree with him, but didn't you notice that he said, I'm not denying that there was a Holocaust? I thought I heard that pretty clearly.
"Heard that pretty clearly," Chris? Let's take a look at just what the Iranian president said about that genocide:
QUESTION: Mr. President, a further set of questions challenged your view of the Holocaust. Since the evidence that this occurred in Europe in the 1940s, as a result of the actions of the German Nazi government, since that -- those facts -- are well documented, why are you calling for additional research? There seems to be no purpose in doing so, other than to question whether the Holocaust actually occurred as a historical fact. Can you explain why you believe more research is needed into the facts of what are what are incontrovertible?
AHMADINEJAD: Thank you very much for your question. I am an academic, and you are as well. Can you argue that researching a phenomenon is finished, forever done? Can we close the books for good on a historical event?
There are different perspectives that come to light after every research is done. Why should we stop research at all? Why should we stop the progress of science and knowledge?
You shouldn't ask me why I'm asking questions. You should ask yourselves why you think that that's questionable? Why do you want to stop the progress of science and research?
... There has been more research on physics than it has on the Holocaust, but we still continue to do research on physics. There is nothing wrong with doing it.
This is what man wants. They want to approach a topic from different points of view. Scientists want to do that.
This is what Matthews believes is Ahmadinejad "not denying there was a Holocaust"? By the Iranian leader invoking "different perspectives" about the systematic murder of an entire group of people? Comparing it to ... physics? By lamenting that "further research" into the matter hasn't been undertaken? This is precisely what Holocaust deniers -- and other conspiracy theorists -- routinely do!
UPDATE (Sept. 27 at 7pm EDT): Matthews, later on in the show, insists the same exact thing to a couple of Columbia students. (I missed this exchange in the transcript as the earlier exchange with Weprin sufficiently makes the point.):
MATTHEWS: Weren‘t you surprised, William, that he did allow that there was a Holocaust today? Isn‘t that progress that wouldn‘t have occurred had there not been an—an event like today‘s?
NOSAL: I don‘t think there‘s anything that remotely resembles progress.
MATTHEWS: Well, answer that question. Weren‘t you impressed that he admitted there was a Holocaust, after these days and months of denial?
But, I mean, I watched on “60 Minutes” last night, like most of America, I‘m sure, and he said pretty much the same thing as he said today on campus.
MATTHEWS: What did he say?
NOSAL: He said—he countered with his two questions about—for the first being, why can‘t we do more research into this field, meaning the Holocaust, whereas we continue to do research in the realms of physics and science. And he's said those questions, I think—I am not exactly sure - but for months at least. It‘s nothing new from him.
MATTHEWS: There is something new.
Anyway, let me go to Sarah.
It seems to me that he did—I mean, I'm watching this thing. He said, I'm not denying there was a Holocaust. I heard him clearly say that.
(Thanks to NB reader Richard Goldstein for the tip!)