Matthews Hails ‘Profound’ Book by ‘Moderate’ Hillary Despite Not Reading the Whole Thing

Seemingly everyone has an opinion about Hillary Clinton’s pity party/book What Happened and so, it was Hardball’s turn on Tuesday. Host Chris Matthews proclaimed it to be “a very profound and candid book” by “moderate” Hillary despite the fact that he hasn’t read the whole book yet.

“It's a question mark, What Happened and why — about why she lost the 2016 election and she wants to know why she's such a lightning rod. This is the human question she's asking. Why do all these millions of people not like me? It’s all we're going to talk about that, what she wrote. It’s a very profound and candid book,” Matthews swooned in a tease for the Clinton segment. 

In another tease, Matthews admitted that What Happened is “a well — I must say — published book” and predicted that “it’s going to sell a lot” of copies.

Later, Matthews returned with USA Today’s Susan Page fresh off her Hillary interview and gushed that the book was “very authentic” even though he conceded that he’s not read the whole thing (based off of him saying “so far what I’m reading”).

He continued:

The thing that gets to me is a couple of things. Many times now, she says I didn't follow my instinct, whether it was turning around to the lug behind her when Trump was trolling after her like the phantom, some strange character, and she said maybe I should have turned around and confronted him and then saying maybe I should have confronted some other charges, like going after Comey or whatever. Why did she abandon instinct all of those times do you think? Is there an understanding of why she wasn't instinctive?

Page fretted that Clinton has “always been a cautious politician and not a risk taking one....and I did think the difference in this book and her two previous memoirs is that she is — she is, to a degree, less calculating, more candid and pretty wounded still, I think, from the election.”

<<< Please support MRC's NewsBusters team with a tax-deductible contribution today. >>>

Continuing to skip the fact that she’s not accepted much if any responsibility for her campaign’s failure, Page explained that she’s most angry at Bernie Sanders for giving then-candidate Trump a line of attack for the general election plus James Comey for his October 28 letter.

Matthews has referred to Clinton as a “moderate” before, so he trotted that label out again:

Do you think she is — look. I’ve always thought she was a moderate, too hawkish for me. I mean, she just is on that one issue, but on other issues, I'm sort of back and forth on free trade sometimes. But I think she's a free trader, a bit of a hawk, certainly a moderate like her husband, like Bill Clinton. I think she was for NAFTA and we’ve got a long record here, people work hard and play by the rules, all that old, Clinton sales pitch. I think she believes in that. I don't think she's a lefty.

Page offered a rather ludicrous reply, stating that Hillary is “a pragmatist.” She went onto add that Clinton’s a “dutiful student” but not exactly “aspiration” and “[t]hat's not to say she's not a progressive.”

The pair spent a few moments debating that label before Matthews thanked Page for her “really nice human thing from you about her.”

Here’s the relevant transcript from MSNBC’s Hardball on August 12:

MSNBC’s Hardball
September 12, 2017
7:15 p.m. Eastern [TEASE]

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Plus, What Happened, Hillary Clinton's book is out today. It's a question mark, What Happened and why — about why she lost the 2016 election and she wants to know why she's such a lightning rod. This is the human question she's asking. Why do all these millions of people not like me? It’s all we're going to talk about that, what she wrote. It’s a very profound and candid book.

(....)

7:31 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: Susan Page is going to stick with us because she had one wow interview with Hillary Clinton. I’ve been reading it in the paper today, USA Today. She's going to share with us very personally. The book is called What Happened. It's a well — I must say — published book. It looks like it's going to sell a lot. 

(....)

7:34 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: Hillary Clinton's now tell all book What Happened came out today. It’s pub date, as they say. It's her take on what wrong and what she wishes she had done differently during the 2016 election. She writes that: “It’s fair to say there was a fundamental mismatch between how I approach politics and what the country wanted to hear in 2016. I've learned that even the best plans and proposals can land on deaf ears when people are disillusions by a broken political system and disgusted with politicians. When people are angry and looking for someone to blame, they don't want to hear our ten-point plan to create jobs and wages. They want you to be angry too.” She admits that: “I have come to terms with the fact that a lot people--millions and millions of people--decided they didn't like me. Imagine what that feels like. It hurts. And it's a hard time to accept. But there’s no getting around it.”

[SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS SOUNDBITE]

MATTHEWS: Said out of anger or what? Sadness. Anyway, I'm back with USA Today Washington bureau chief Susan Page, who interviewed Hillary Clinton yesterday about the book. I find the book fascinating. I think it is very authentic so far what I'm reading. The thing that gets to me is a couple of things. Many times now, she says I didn't follow my instinct, whether it was turning around to the lug behind her when Trump was trolling after her like the phantom, some strange character, and she said maybe I should have turned around and confronted him and then saying maybe I should have confronted some other charges, like going after Comey or whatever. Why did she abandon instinct all of those times do you think? Is there an understanding of why she wasn't instinctive?

SUSAN PAGE: I think she's always been a cautious politician and not a risk taking one. She’s never been a John McCain or Lindsey Graham-kind of politician that felt confident enough to say what they thought and then deal with the consequences if it made a mess. She's always been very carefully spoken — pretty cautious and calculating. And I did think the difference in this book and her two previous memoirs is that she is — she is, to a degree, less calculating, more candid and pretty wounded still, I think, from the election. 

MATTHEWS: Is she wounded by — because no matter what you say in politics — well, she got the most votes. She swept California, let’s say, and she swept New York so she won the popular as everybody will always remember. Is she at all angry — I haven't read the book yet, just pieces of it. Is she angry at the staff people because, in the end, you pay these staff people of couple hundred a year sometimes or more. And you give them a good salary, they’re usually by the month, a lot by the month and you expect them to give you the lay of the land, what's the mood out there, what's working. Every since Kennedy hired Lou Harris to be his pollster, they have pollsters. How come they didn't pick it up? How come they didn’t pick up this resentment that’s out there?

PAGE: There are two people she’s mad at. She's mad at Bernie Sanders because she says his attacks on her for those Wall Street speeches in the primaries gave Trump a way to attack her as Crooked Hillary and she is especially angry at James Comey because she basically blames Comey and that October 28 statement on finding new e-mails with costing her the election. 

MATTHEWS: Let’s talk about Bernie because Bernie is not retired. Bernie Sanders I think could well run. I don't care how old he is. He looks like he’s running now. He’s hitting all of the states. He’s moving around. He's got his juice still and he’s still got it. And she's now — you think she is out of the running. You think he's basically decided I've tried it, it's over. 

PAGE: She says, she told me I'm not going to run for office again and she — this is not the book she would have written if he was going to run for office again. So, yes. I believe she's not going to run for office again but I do think that she wants to stay engaged in politics and I do think that’s she's going to be a critic of Bernie Sanders going forward.

MATTHEWS: Do you think she is — look. I’ve always thought she was a moderate, too hawkish for me. I mean, she just is on that one issue, but on other issues, I'm sort of back and forth on free trade sometimes. But I think she's a free trader, a bit of a hawk, certainly a moderate like her husband, like Bill Clinton. I think she was for NAFTA and we’ve got a long record here, people work hard and play by the rules, all that old, Clinton sales pitch. I think she believes in that. I don't think she's a lefty. Do you think she'll stay in the ring as a [sic] advocate for a moderate Democrat candidate in 2020?

PAGE: I think she's a pragmatist, right? And she's also kind of the dutiful student, so she wants her program to add up. She wants to have a ten-point program and she wants the budget numbers to add up and that is not the kind of campaign that tends to catch fire that gets people all charged up. It's not aspirational and I think that's one of the things that undid her when she was running against Bernie Sanders. That's not to say she's not a progressive. I think she is. I mean, she’s, in many ways —

MATTHEWS: Oh well that word is pretty widely used now. 

PAGE: — but she's a liberal on issues that come to rights, civil rights and women's rights and —

MATTHEWS: That's true. 

PAGE: — and —

MATTHEWS: I'm talking about economics. I guess you're right on the social issues like abortion rights and things like that, choice and gay rights, all the way to the latest concerns about transgender people and all the — I think she’s very liberal on all that stuff. I think she is. Susan Page, great reporting as always. A really nice human thing from you about her. 


Please support NewsBusters today! (a 501c3 non-profit production of the Media Research Center)

DONATE
CyberAlerts Liberals & Democrats MSNBC Hardball USA Today Video Susan Page Chris Matthews Hillary Clinton Donald Trump Bernie Sanders
Curtis Houck's picture