Chris Matthews has found the problem with how the media covered the 2012 election: Unbiased journalists were simply too focused on being "even-handed" and treating Republicans fairly. Yes, really. The Hardball anchor on Wednesday began his program by declaring, "Did you get the impression during the presidential campaign that the press was trying too hard to be even-handed?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Matthews continued, "Did you think the people delivering the news were pushing what we call balance at the expense of the obvious facts, that the day-to-day stories never got across the obvious big fact, that the Democrats in this election were like Democrats going back to Jack Kennedy?" Matthews, who previously compared the GOP to Hitler and the Ku Klux Klan, declared himself the arbiter of media fairness: "So tonight we're going to nail it. We go to the truth, and why was the truth that dared not be reported in the mainstream media?"
The host proclaimed that in 2012 "the Republicans were far to the right of anything we've seen from that party ever. "
Back to reality: As the Media Research Center's Best Notable Quotables of 2012 found, journalists aggressively slammed Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan:
Co-host Ann Curry: "The Center of [sic] Budget and Policy Priorities…says 62 percent of the savings in your budget would come from cutting programs for the poor, that between eight and ten million people would be kicked off of food stamps, that you would cut Medicare by $200 billion, Medicaid and other health programs by something like $770 billion. Where is the empathy in this budget?… Do you acknowledge that poor people will suffer under this budget-"
Representative Paul Ryan: "No. No."
Curry: "-that you have shown a lack of empathy to poor people in this budget?"
— NBC’s Today, April 10, 2012. Ryan’s budget blueprint would actually increase Medicare spending by 70% over the next ten years and Medicaid and other health spending by 31% over the same time period.
"What the press should be focused on is what are the consequences of repeal of ObamaCare. And the consequences, as Mike [Kinsley] just indicated, are death. Repeal equals death. People will die in the United States if ObamaCare is repealed. That is not an exaggeration. That is not crying fire. It’s a simple fact….They [the Obama campaign] need to move on to a debate about the main issue, which is ObamaCare. And they can bring death into the conversation and say, ‘No, we’re not calling Mitt Romney a murderer. What we are saying is that if he’s elected President, a lot of people will die.’"
— Ex-Newsweek senior editor Jonathan Alter, now an MSNBC political analyst, on The Ed Show, August 9, 2012.
Journalists also fawned over Barack Obama:
"One of the perils of being President: Everything you ever wrote will become public. And today, Barack Obama, age 22 — long before he met Michelle — new letters and diary entries revealed in Vanity Fair from a biography out soon….The future president writes adoringly about life in New York. Quote, ‘Moments trip gently along over here. Snow caps the bushes in unexpected ways. Birds shoot and spin like balls of sound. My feet hum over the dry walks.’ Oh, we were all so romantic when we were young."
— Diane Sawyer on World News, May 2, 2012.
"This guy’s done everything right. He’s raised his family right. He’s fought his way all the way to the top of the Harvard Law Review, in a blind test becomes head of the Review, the top editor there. Everything he’s done is clean as a whistle. He’s never not only broken any law, he’s never done anything wrong. He’s the perfect father, the perfect husband, the perfect American. And all they do is trash the guy."
— MSNBC’s Chris Matthews talking about President Obama on Hardball, July 17, 2012.
To vote on the worst quotes, go the Notable Quotable ballot.
Matthews even hinted that the New York Times wasn't liberal enough for him: "I don't write the main bar of "The New York Times." I couldn't say something like, Newt Gingrich will never be president of the United States. Let's start with that as the first lead sentence."
A partial transcript of the December 12 segment is below:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: "Let Me Start" with this tonight. Did you get the impression during the presidential campaign that the press was trying too hard to be even-handed? Did you think the people delivering the news were pushing what we call balance at the expense of the obvious facts, that the day-to-day stories never got across the obvious big fact, that the Democrats in this election were like Democrats going back to Jack Kennedy? But the Republicans were far to the right of anything we've seen from that party ever? Self-deportation, forget the 47 percent, treat women like they belong in binders. Ignore the rights of gay people, crack down on abortion rights even in cases of rape-- all those wild statements, all the lingo in the GOP platform approved in Tampa, and not a word that one of the country's two major political parties has gone so far starboard that not even Ronald Reagan could get aboard, and certainly not-- not by his own admission Jeb Bush.
So tonight we're going to nail it. We go to the truth, and why was the truth that dared not be reported in the mainstream media? Joining me now for a brutal autopsy is Joan Walsh of Salon and David Corn of "Mother Jones," neither of whom can be charged with hiding what's wrong with the right. Thank you both for joining us. Here's what Norm Ornstein, I guy I really respect, of AEI, the American Enterprise Institute, told the Huffington Post about the broadcast networks.
Quote, "I can't recall a campaign where I've seen more lying going on, and it wasn't symmetric, but it seemed pretty clear to me that the Republican campaign was just far more over the top. It's the great unreported big story of American politics. If voters are going to be able to hold accountable political figures, they've got to know what's going on. And if the story that you're telling repeatedly is that they're all to blame -- they're all equally to blame, then you're really doing a disservice to voters and not doing what journalism is supposed to do."
MATTHEWS: We have more freedom here on HARDBALL, I admit. I don't write the main bar of "The New York Times." I couldn't say something like, Newt Gingrich will never be president of the United States. Let's start with that as the first lead sentence. Rick Santorum is never going to be nominated even by today's Republican Party. He's too far out. But you can't do that because in fairness and balance, you have to assume, Hey, there might be a chance this guy will win. Who knows?