During Morning Joe's opening segment today, Joe Scarborough, in an apparent allusion to the ambitions Chris Matthews has expressed, facetiously wondered whether the panel should start calling the Hardball host "Senator."
But just a bit later, Scarborough seized on a question Matthews posed to John McCain yesterday to illustrate a classic bit of MSM bias: the way the liberal media only speak of a "litmus test" when it comes to Republicans choosing pro-life nominees, never in regard to Dems picking pro-choicers.
McCain was a guest yesterday on a special College Tour edition of Hardball, live from Villanova University near Philly. Matthews teed up the "litmus test" question by posing the possibility of McCain choosing pro-choice Republican Tom Ridge as his VP running mate. Morning Joe rolled the tape of the exchange, then kibitzed the issue.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Would you put a person on the ticket with you like the former governor of this state, who is very popular, Tom Ridge, even though he may disagree -- even though he may disagree with you on the issue of Roe v. Wade and abortion rights? Would you put somebody on the ticket like that, on that one issue would it stop him?
JOHN MCCAIN: I don't know if it would stop him but it would be difficult.
MATTHEWS: Why is there that one litmus test that's an issue?
MCCAIN: I'm not saying that would be necessarily but I am saying that it's basically the respect and cherishing of the right of the unborn is one of the fundamental principles of my party. And it's a -- a deeply held, deeply held belief of mine.
Back in the studio, Scarborough made his point.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: You know it's very interesting. I watch political shows a good bit. And I have through the years. I have never called it a litmus test in the mainstream media when a Democrat only chooses somebody who is pro-choice. It's only a litmus test when a Republican chooses somebody who is pro-life.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Yes.
SCARBOROUGH: I've never heard that. I wonder why that is? Because, of course, the Democrats have been much more closed to people who are pro-life than Republicans have to people who are pro-choice, despite the fact that America is evenly split on this issue.
BRZEZINSKI:Yeah, yeah. That one is -- I can see why he feels the way he does.
SCARBOROUGH: Yeah. When you move further to the left, of course, "you evolve, you grow." But I think that's because -- I could ask you all this question but I don't want to out you if you feel free talking about it, let me know. How many people in the news business in Manhattan, Georgetown and Los Angeles have you ever met in positions of power who were pro-life?
BRZEZINSKI: Hmm. I've met some.
SCARBOROUGH: Ha! What? Did you go over to Fox for an afternoon? Have you [addressing Willie Geist]?
WILLIE GEIST [ever the diplomat]: I've met many, many fewer of them, than the other way, I'll say.
SCARBOROUGH: That is a legitimate thing to say. I think when we talk about the news media, which tries extraordinarily hard from everybody I've seen, professionals try to be fair [surely Joe jests]. But one thing I've noticed, though, on social issues, that's where there's the biggest gulf. You don't see a lot of people who are pro-life, you don't see a lot of hunters, you don't see a lot of people who believe the Second Amendment is a constitutional right. And I think sometimes it shows in those type of issues. That's why some people are surprised by voters in the fall [the Pauline Kael phenomenon, however apocryphal]. Hey, we'll be back with weather and a look at the morning papers. Now, Mika, you believe in the Second Amendment.
SCARBOROUGH: Annie Oakley.
BRZEZINSKI: I got my gun right here!