Chris Matthews on Friday actually used material presented in a Hollywood movie to accuse former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of being convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff's dupe.
As DeLay presented his side of the case days after being sentenced to three years in prison for illegally influencing Texas politics, the "Hardball" host said, "You were tied up with people [like] Mike Scanlon and [Jack] Abramoff especially. I saw the movie...You looked like these guys were manipulating you as a member of Congress" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: On Monday, Texas judge sentenced former House majority leader Tom DeLay to three years in prison for illegally conspiring to launder corporate political donations to candidates in his state, Texas, of course. Mr. DeLay joins us now from Houston. Briefly Mr. DeLay, Congressman, can you tell us what you think was the misapplication of law here?
TOM DELAY: Well, first of all, Chris, it's great to see you again. I've been a little busy. Well, using the criminal code to enforce the election code has never been done before in the entire United States and that's what this is. There's no crime here. They are accusing me of money laundering but you have to have proceeds from criminal activity in order to launder money. All we did was elect Republicans. We created a political action committee legally, raised corporate funds legally, took those corporate funds and sent them to the Republican National Committee legally, they took them spent them in states where they could be used legally, and they took individually raised money, legal, and sent it to elections in Texas. No corporate funds ever got to elections in Texas.
MATTHEWS: Is Texas capable of a fair trial?
DELAY: This is amazing. What’s the crime?
MATTHEWS: No, I don't know about your case and whether you're innocent or not. I understand your argument. It sounds reasonable to me that they misapplied a law made for drug dealers, threw it at you and used a conspiracy angle to get you. I understand that. But my question is why would the court system operate this way? Why would a judge, why would a jury believe that you were guilty of a crime if you aren't? Why would they all be wrong? All twelve jurors, or whatever, a judge, are they all in this -- is there some kind of conspiracy on their part do you believe?
DELAY: No, it’s not about the jury, it's about the law. The prosecution, which is a rogue prosecution that indicted me on laws that didn't even exist in Texas, presented their case and spent nine days and 33 witnesses and never brought one shred of evidence of wrongdoing or money laundering. They presented their entire case around the corruption of politics. The corruption of raising money, millions of money. Politicians flying around in private planes. Lobbyists and all of the stuff, and played to the emotion of the jury that this guy has got to be corrupt so put him in prison.
MATTHEWS: Well, you were tied up with people that are not, Mike Scanlon and Abramoff especially. I saw the movie, they, and you were sort of like the dupe of these guys. You were out there playing golf in Scotland on their paycheck. It was a junket. You looked like these guys were manipulating you as a member of Congress. They looked like criminals. You look like you were being their fool. That's the way it looks in the movie.
DELAY: Chris, you have been around politics long enough to know that that movie is a crock.
Actually, he doesn't, for despite all the people on both sides of the aisle that lambasted the recent Valerie Plame film as a pathetic piece of fiction with significant factual errors in it, Matthews highly recommended it even going so far as comparing it to "Casablanca."
But what's even more disturbing is the idea that a so-called journalist working for a cable news network would seriously question a guest about representations in a film as opposed to the actual documented facts about the case.
On the other hand, the "Hardball" host did admit, "I don't know about your case and whether you're innocent or not."
I guess rather than take the time to educate himself about the facts, Matthews just watched the film.
Some journalist, huh?
His bosses at MSNBC and NBC must be so proud of the work he's doing.