Chris Matthews: No Complaints About Murtha, Media Can't Be Wrong

As reported last night by Mark Finkelstein, Chris Matthews interviewed Congressman John Murtha’s Republican opponent, Diana Irey, in Pennsylvania’ 12th district on "Hardball". Part of the interview focused on the Haditha incident in Iraq and Congressman Murtha’s statement of condemnation of American troops surrounding the incident. Matthews challenged Irey, "...if you’re right about Murtha, you must be right about "Time" magazine and all the news publications" and claimed he had no complaints about Murtha’s Haditha comments:

"You know, I think, I think Murtha served in the military as a combat officer in Vietnam. I don't have any complaints, but you have a complaint, that's fine."

So being a combat officer in Vietnam excuses grossly irresponsible comments directed toward men and women currently serving in the armed services, particularly those serving in Iraq? Mr. Matthews has no complaints that Congressman Murtha has judged as guilty troops who have been accused of committing atrocities in Iraq before they have received their day in court.

As Ms. Irey had mentioned previously in the segment:

"...and his comment that we had marines that killed innocent Iraqi civilians in cold blood. You know, that was such a devastating blow to our military. What that did was it was a rush to judgment. It painted them all with a wide brush and it declared that they were guilty before innocent and that's not the way we do things here in America."

But apparently, since Congressman Murtha was a combat officer in Vietnam, it qualifies him to judge these marines as guilty, so Matthews has no complaints, even if Murtha’s statements violate the fundamental American principle of innocent until proven guilty. Matthews even goes on to presume that the accused marines will be convicted:

Matthews: "Would it be all right for him to say that after they were condemned?"

Irey: "If he wants to make comments."

Matthews: "I know, but is it all right to say that after they are convicted. Is it alright to say that?"

Why does Mr. Matthews presume they are going to be convicted? Has he seen all the evidence in the case. As Americans aren’t these troops entitled to the presumption of innocence?

Also in the interview, Ms. Irey noted that she has received communications from troops serving over seas who have informed her that Murtha’s statements on Haditha have emboldened the enemy:

"I receive emails and letters regularly from the soldiers on the ground in Iraq, and they are saying that what Mr. Murtha has said has emboldened our enemy. It has given the insurgents new energy in what they're doing against us."

So Murtha’s statements are not only violating the presumption of innocence principle, but also encourage the enemy. Mr. Matthews’ response may explain why he has judged the accused as guilty, without trial, and has no complaints about Congressman Murtha’s statements, and that is the media have come to the same conclusions:

"Well, the cover of ‘Time’ magazine and other publications have been filled with stories about that horror over there. Isn’t that also, if you're right about Murtha, you must be right about ‘Time’ magazine and all the news publications."

So, if Ms. Irey is correct about what she says about Congressman Murtha, it also undermines the press. It shows the media have been accomplices in endangering our troops and violating American principles, and Mr. Matthews can’t let that stand. After all, the media would never do anything to undermine national defenses, would they?