Eye Roll: Matthews Invokes ‘Common Sense’ in Discussing Anti-Trump Newspaper Campaign

Yes, that headline is real. In covering the effort by over 350 newspapers to collude against President Trump, Wednesday’s Hardball featured MSNBC host Chris Matthews alluding to Thomas Paine’s Common Sense and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin in the segment promoting the anti-Trump collusion campaign started by The Boston Globe.

Matthews began the nearly five-minute love note to the media with clips of President Trump lashing out at the press and highlighting the editorial project.

 

 

He also provided this gooey quote from The Globe’s editorial that showcased the media’s egotistic view of itself in American life:

The greatness of America is dependent on the role of the free press to speak the truth, to the powerful. To label the press “the enemy of the people” is as un-American as it is dangerous to the civil compact we have shared for more than two centuries.

After welcoming on Globe editorial board member Marcela Garcia, Matthews tacitly compared this arrogant act of self-pleasure by the news media to two of the more famous literary works in American history (click “expand” for more):

I keep thinking, Marcela, that this country began because a pamphleteer Thomas Paine wrote Common Sense and distributed 300,000 copies in around the country and those copies that he put out in print are the case —constituted the case for independence. The very beginning of our country came because somebody wrote a good editorial, you know? And, you know, and I think about Uncle Tom's Cabin. And I think of all of the things and the — throughout that come, because somebody sat down and wrote something they believed in that changed our history for the better. 

 

Sure, Chris. The brave move by Paine to publish Common Sense and then another by Stowe with an anti-slavery novel nine years before the Civil War totally have similarities to Thursday's anti-Trump editorials. Sigh.

Matthews then expressed dismay that Trump “would dare to criticize the trend of the good stuff in our history.”

Garcia replied that Trump’s “alarming” criticism of the media inspired them to make this move. She also falsely asserted that criticizing the media has to do with one’s dismay that they’re holding people they like accountable:

And like you were saying, historically, historically, the media has always been attacked, has always called biased, has always been sort of, you know, because we hold power accountable, right? It’s — kind of expected, you know, that presidents would call a media outlet or the media biased or, you know, against him or what not.

It’s safe to say that Garcia probably thinks the media adequately held Barack Obama accountable and didn’t play footsie with he and his administration for eight years.

“But President Trump really did cross a line and I think that’s what prompted us to act. We felt we needed to do something. We felt we couldn't stand on the sidelines anymore because if we don't do it, who else will stick up for the press,” Garcia continued in apocalyptic terms.

In an attempt to claim that what went on Thursday was not collusion, Matthews told viewers that “each newspaper was invited to provide its own defense of the free press today, reflecting its individual perspective.” And that, folks, is what you call spin.

Garcia later concluded that Thursday was also important to “remind people of the stakes here” because, if that doesn’t happen, “democracy suffer[s] and we all suffer.”

To see the relevant transcript from MSNBC’s Hardball on August 16, click “expand.”

MSNBC’s Hardball
August 16, 2018
7:33 p.m. Eastern

DONALD TRUMP: [on 02/24/17] I call it the fake news, the enemy of the people and they are. They are the enemy of the people. [SCREEN WIPE] [on 08/22/17] These are really, really dishonest people and they are bad people. [SCREEN WIPE] [on 07/31/18] Fake news. Fake news. They are fake. [SCREEN WIPE] [on 08/02/18] And even these people back here, these horrible horrendous people. They can make anything bad. Because they are the fake, fake disgusting news. [SCREEN WIPE] [on 06/25/18] The enemy. The enemy of the people, I call ‘em.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Welcome to Hardball. Those were just a few of President Trump's many attacks on the media and while today newspapers across the country united to denounce those attacks and remind Americans that journalists are not the enemy. Led by The Boston Globe, more than 350 newspapers across the country — newspapers responding to president trump with each paper writing its own, individual defense of the free press. In its editorial, The Globe wrote: “The greatness of America is dependent on the role of the free press to speak the truth, to the powerful. To label the press ‘the enemy of the people’ is as un-American as it is dangerous to the civil compact we have shared for more than two centuries.” True to form, President Trump responded by denouncing the effort on Twitter. He wrote: ““THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY. It is very bad for our Great Country....BUT WE ARE WINNING!” And he later attacked The Globe directly saying: “[T]he Globe is in COLLUSION with other papers on free press.” Wow. I am joined right now by Marcela Garcia, a member of The Globe editorial board. She was involved in planning the project and in reaching out to newspapers across the country. I keep thinking, Marcela, that this country began because a pamphleteer Thomas Paine wrote Common Sense and distributed 300,000 copies in around the country and those copies that he put out in print are the case —constituted the case for independence. The very beginning of our country came because somebody wrote a good editorial, you know? And, you know, and I think about Uncle Tom's Cabin and I think of all of the things and the — throughout that come, because somebody sat down and wrote something they believed in that changed our history for the better. And I wonder how a President would dare to criticize the trend of the good stuff in our history. The good stuff

MARCELA GARCIA: Right. It’s — that's exactly what prompted us to do this. It was an alarming turn of events to have the president of the United States, your president, my President saying these things about journalists, you know, calling them the enemy of the people and it really is a dangerous path there. And like you were saying, historically, historically, the media has always been attacked, has always called biased, has always been sort of, you know, because we hold power accountable, right? It’s — kind of expected, you know, that presidents would call a media outlet or the media biased or, you know, against him or what not. But President Trump really did cross a line and I think that’s what prompted us to act. We felt we needed to do something. We felt we couldn't stand on the sidelines anymore because if we don't do it, who else will stick up for the press?

MATTHEWS: Well, as I mentioned, each newspaper was invited to provide its own defense of the free press today, reflecting its individual perspective. And The New York Times, a frequent target, of course, of President Trump’s attacks, wrote: “Insisting that truths you don't like are ‘fake news’ is dangerous to the life blood of democracy. And calling journalists the ‘enemy of the people’ is dangerous, period.” The Philadelphia Inquirer, which I grew up with, wrote: “As the birthplace of our democracy, Philadelphia was also one of the birthplaces of a free press and the Inquirer, born not long after the country’s own birth, proudly continues that legacy.” In Kansas, the Topeka Capital-Journal argued: “We are not the enemy of the people, we are the people.” You know, I don’t know, it’s — it’s — the enemy of the people part is particularly, to me, awful because it’s one thing to have something clownish to say like fake news, which is a clownish statement. 

GARCIA: Sure.

MATTHEWS: But Nixon at his worst — at his worst, said that the press was his enemy. 

GARCIA: Right.

MATTHEWS: He didn't say the enemy of the people. He just said I can’t deal with these people.

GARCIA: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: They’re all a bunch of liberals. They don’t agree with me or they don’t like me. Personally, they don’t like me cause of what I’ve done all my life. But he never said they were the enemy of the people. This is worse. 

GARCIA: Right. Exactly cause he — that’s exactly right and that’s what — what really we thought a line had been crossed and we just thought that we needed to do something collectively to stand up for the press because and, you know, remind people too, remind people of the stakes here. What’s our role, remind people what we do. You know, beyond informing the public, what are we doing? We hold power accountable, you know, and if we, as an institution, if we get undermine by these attacks —

MATTHEWS: Right.

GARCIA: — democracy suffer and we all suffer.

NB Daily Media Bias Debate Books MSNBC Hardball Major Newspapers Boston Globe New York Times Philadelphia Inquirer Kansas Video Government & Press Thomas Paine Chris Matthews Donald Trump
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