MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Monday took on CBS's Bob Schieffer for challenging unsubstantiated allegations that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is funneling foreign dollars into Republican campaigns.
As NewsBusters previously reported, the "Face the Nation" host mocked White House senior adviser David Axelrod Sunday for advancing this unfounded premise that even the New York Times has discredited.
Yet that didn't concern the "Hardball" host who rather than presenting the facts as Schieffer and the Times did exclusively offered the Democrat view as he scolded his colleague from another television network (video follows with transcript and commentary):
CHRIS MATTHEWS,: Let`s bring in David Axelrod here because he talked to Bob Schieffer yesterday. They`re talking about the same question, What`s this fight about? How did the president get into a fight with this middleweight champion who lost a few championship belts over the years, Karl Rove? Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB SCHIEFFER, "FACE THE NATION": This part about foreign money -- that appears to be peanuts, Mr. Axelrod. I mean, do you have any evidence that it`s anything other than peanuts?
DAVID AXELROD, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: Well, do you have any evidence that it`s not, Bob? The fact is that the Chamber has asserted that, but they won`t release any information about where their campaign money is coming from, and that`s at the core of the problem here.
SCHIEFFER: If the only charge three weeks into the election that the Democrats can make is that somehow, this may or may not be foreign money coming into the campaign, is that the best you can do?
AXELROD: No, I think that we have a more -- a fundamental concern, Bob, which is that the Republican Party and these interest groups, who are now the major force in some of these campaigns, want to turn the clock back to the very same policies that got us into this mess in the first place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Here`s Ed Gillespie, the former chair of the party, reacting to Axelrod on CBS. It`s so interesting how this fight`s developed in these last three weeks we`re going into. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED GILLESPIE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: And the notion that David Axelrod, one of the highest-ranking officials, a sworn official in the White House, would sit on this set and say, I`m going to lob these charges and let them prove it`s wrong -- what if I accuse the cameraman here, of -- Hey, you`ve taken foreign money. Let`s -- you know, prove that that`s wrong. That is an unbelievable mentality!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Gillespie`s talking about the cameraman there -- a little weird. But I guess the point is -- it seems to me -- here`s the question. Cillizza first. If the U.S. Chamber of Commerce raises millions and millions of dollars from its corporate sources, including overseas sources, and funnels that money into these Republican campaigns, what was illegitimate about what Axelrod and the president are saying? I don`t understand Schieffer`s question. I understand Schieffer would say, This ain`t exactly this heaviest (INAUDIBLE) you`ve ever --
CHRIS CILLIZZA, WASHINGTON POST: Right.
MATTHEWS: -- wheeled out here. But what`s wrong with the basic charge?
What's wrong with the basic charge? Well, let's look at what the Times reported Saturday:
But a closer examination shows that there is little evidence that what the chamber does in collecting overseas dues is improper or even unusual, according to both liberal and conservative election-law lawyers and campaign finance documents.
In fact, the controversy over the Chamber of Commerce financing may say more about the Washingtonspin cycle — where an Internet blog posting can be quickly picked up by like-minded groups and become political fodder for the president himself — than it does about the vagaries of campaign finance.
Organizations from both ends of the political spectrum, from liberal ones like the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and the Sierra Club to conservative groups like the National Rifle Association, have international affiliations and get money from foreign entities while at the same time pushing political causes in the United States.
In addition, more than 160 political action committees active in campaigning have been set up by corporations that are based overseas, including military contractors like B.A.E. Systems and pharmaceutical giants like GlaxoSmithKline, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research service. […]
Richard L. Hasen, an election-law specialist at LoyolaLawSchoolin Los Angeles, said there were legitimate questions about whether foreign money could be making its way into campaigns, particularly because many groups are not required to disclose their donors. But he added, “I’ve seen no proof of the chamber funneling a penny of foreign money into U.S.elections.”
Readers are reminded: this is from the New York Times. So was this:
The issue of the chamber’s funding first gained notice this week when ThinkProgress, a blog affiliated with the Center for American Progress, an influential liberal advocacy group, posted a lengthy piece with the headline “Exclusive: Foreign-Funded ‘U.S.’ Chamber of Commerce Running Partisan Attack Ads.”
The piece detailed the chamber’s overseas memberships, but it provided no evidence that the money generated overseas had been used in United Statescampaigns. Still, liberal groups likeMoveOn.org pounced on the allegations, resulting in protests at the chamber’s offices, a demand for a federal investigation by Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, and ultimately the remarks by Mr. Obama himself.
But Matthews chose to ignore all this as did his guests the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza and Mother Jones's David Corn:
CILLIZZA: Well, because it`s -- there`s nothing wrong with the basic charge, Chris, but it`s hard to prove a negative. The Chamber is -- I think what the White House wants is for the Chamber to disclose all of the money that they`re spending, which they`re not going to do.
But what that kind of back and forth reminded me of -- I`m going to dip into Boston history. There was a great "Cheers" episode in which Cliff (INAUDIBLE) presented with three historical figures. He doesn`t know what the three of them have in common. His question is, Who are three people who have never been in my kitchen? Now, those people had never been in his kitchen, but that`s not the point! I think that`s Ed Gillespie`s point here, like --
MATTHEWS: OK, let me --
MATTHEWS: Let me make a narrower case. A lot of working people in this country are suspicious that the big corporations spend all their time cutting jobs. They do it for globalization purposes. They engage in outsourcing. They send jobs overseas. They outsource their supply lines overseas. They do everything they can to screw the working person and make more money. That`s what they think.
Who funds them? Or rather, where do they get their money? The U.S. Chamber of Commerce gets money from those very sources and uses it to elect people in Congress who will support that enterprise of shifting jobs overseas, cost cutting, eliminating the American workforce, basically. They have a grudge here which is pretty American, which is, You are screwing me. I`d like to know who`s paying for this. That`s fair.
Is it? Not even close, for in his zeal to present the Democrat argument, Matthews was showing a staggering ignorance of the Chamber. As the organization's website describes:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations. More than 96% of U.S. Chamber members are small businesses with 100 employees or fewer.
Nice job of research there, Chris. Maybe you could have a member of your staff check to see that the Chamber is made up almost exclusively of small businesses not remotely involved in globalization, outsourcing, and the shifting of jobs overseas.
Of course, such facts would get in the way of you campaigning for Democrats, wouldn't it?
Ironically, Matthews did such a fine job of shilling for the Left that Corn congratulated him:
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Hey, Chris, I`m voting for you because you just made the argument better than the White House has made in the past few days.
NBC, General Electric, Microsoft, and Comcast must be so proud of their employee.
Readers are advised to see Kyle Drennen's "CBS's Rodriguez: 'Undignified' Obama 'Offering No Evidence' of GOP Taking Foreign Money."