Matthews Lectures Forked-Tongue 'Paleface' Bigots of New England

MSNBC host Chris Matthews didn’t just uncork his line on Primary Night about how New Hampshire Democrats would have displayed their racism to pollsters if they heard an "Archie Bunker voice" on the other end of the line. He repeated it on Wednesday’s "Morning Joe" show on MSNBC. He was upset at anyone who thought the pollsters and pundits were wrong about the Obama victory, when white voters lied to pollsters: "Methinks Paleface speak with forked tongue."

Matthews declared he thought this was over in 2006: "I thought white voters had stopped being what they want to be. And you know what it tells me? People aren't proud of who they are." Host Joe Scarborough, asking Matthews to address the alleged bigotry in New England, drew out Matthews, the former top aide to Boston-area Rep. Tip O’Neill, to denounce the whole Boston area: "There's different kinds of prejudice, as you know, in the north than there is in the south, but it exists. It may not be ‘I think I'm better than you,’ but it might be ‘I don't want to live next door to you.’"

My friend and WTKK/Boston talk-show host Michael Graham (no relation) alerted me to the segment, and here’s our transcript:

SCARBOROUGH: Tell us what the hell happened in New Hampshire last night because you know one thing, i will -- let's join together here. I'm not going to take -- I'm not going to swallow this narrative. Oh, you pollsters and pundits got it wrong. We were there. We saw.

MATTHEWS: And we're going to keep polling until the last dog dies, and we're going to do it again and again and again because the American people are future-obsessed. And if you could read tea leaves or tell the future, if we had a crystal ball, we'd be using it.

SCARBOROUGH: And Chris, polling is always –

MATTHEWS, almost in unison: Polling is almost always perfect.

SCARBOROUGH: They always get it right.

MATTHEWS: Polling is great. They get it great all the time.

SCARBOROUGH: So what happened here?

MATTHEWS: Well, there's an old phrase in statistics -- garbage in, garbage out. If the people don't tell the truth to the pollsters, they can't poll.

SCARBOROUGH: Why wouldn't they tell the truth?

MATTHEWS, getting very serious: Well, remember Tonto, and the Lone Ranger? Methinks Paleface speak with forked tongue.


MATTHEWS: You hear me? Forked tongue.

SCARBOROUGH: It's the Tom Bradley effect.

MATTHEWS: He tells the pollster what he wants to hear. The politically correct voice goes, ‘Excuse me, sir or madam. How would you be voting? Would you have any problem voting for an African-American?’‘Of course not.’ You get an Archie Bunker voice, ‘what do think of this guy, Barack whatever-his-name-is,’ you get an honest answer. I’m telling you, people, they’re polling right through –

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: But what about the polls in Iowa?

MATTHEWS: Because in Iowa, they polled people walking into a room, and then they had to stand up and express themselves publicly. They couldn't go hide and squirm in that little booth and do their little thing. People were dishonest. Up to ten to fifteen percent of the voters didn't give honest answers to the pollster. And by the way, you know how we could tell that? You and I sat here last night and watched these numbers come in. The raw numbers came in absolutely, homogeneously, consistently all night long. It was absolutely the easiest thing to poll. Absolutely, you can take any piece of it, it was just like the rest of the polling of the universe.

SCARBOROUGH: It really was.

MATTHEWS: It was an easy poll unless people were dishonest. I talked to our pollster last night at midnight, uh, 1:30 in the morning when I got out of here. The only thing, I said, was there ever a turn when Hillary Clinton began to pick up and turn the corner? ‘Never!’ It never happened. There was no Hillary comeback. What happened was the polling was wrong.

Matthews tried to credit Hillary for working hard and going out in the big arenas. "She did a hell of a job. She's as courageous as hell, and she's a fine person no matter how you look at it." But he wasn't buying that the polls shifted overnight. Then Joe and Chris pondered all the alleged racist lying to pollsters in modern politics:

SCARBOROUGH: If people were lying to pollsters, it wouldn't the first time. They lied when Tom Bradley was running, the African-American Mayor of Los Angeles who ran for -- was it governor?

MATTHEWS: Governor. [In 1982 and 1986.]

SCARBOROUGH: Governor. They lied to the pollsters.

MATTHEWS: They said he won twice. Doug Wilder in Virginia.

SCARBOROUGH: Doug Wilder, they lied about Doug Wilder, and he was supposed to win by about 10 points. [In 1989.]

MATTHEWS: Thirteen.

SCARBOROUGH: Thirteen points.

MATTHEWS: He won by one.

SCARBOROUGH: Doug Wilder supposed to win by 13 points.

MATTHEWS: And Harvey Gantt in North Carolina [1990], apparently – He said, I thought, we thought this was over with. I thought the lying would end with the wonderful performance of Harold Ford Jr., who beat the polling in Tennessee. I thought it ended with macaca. I thought white voters had stopped being what they didn't want to be. And you know what it tells me? People aren't proud of who they are. They're not proud of saying who they are. If they want to vote for Hillary Clinton, fine. Why don't they say so? Why don't they tell the pollsters that?

SCARBOROUGH: I'm used to people saying that we in the South have race problems.

MATTHEWS: Ugh. Tell me about it.

SCARBOROUGH: But talk about New England.

MATTHEWS: Boston? Boston?

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah. South Boston.

MATTHEWS: Boston, the whole thing, the idea there's some -- there's different kinds of prejudice, as you know, in the north than there is in the south, but it exists. It may not be "I think I'm better than you," but it might be "I don't want to live next door to you." There's different kinds of prejudices in this world. Let's face it.

SCARBOROUGH: For the record, I think we in the south have done pretty damn well on the race issue.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis