Chris Matthews on Monday could barely contain his glee as he recounted a contentious Fox News debate between liberal comic Jon Stewart and Chris Wallace. Regarding Stewart's appearance on Fox News Sunday, Matthews excoriated, "Coming up, we got a real prize fight here and it's somewhat imbalanced. Jon Stewart smashing his way through Chris Wallace's face to make a point."
Matthews' panel to discuss the segment included David Corn of the leftist Nation magazine and Alex Wagner of Huffington Post. Corn had a bizarre comparison to the heated discussion.
After playing a clip of the two arguing over whether Stewart had compared Sarah Palin to herpes, Corn weirdly gushed, "[Wallace is] up against Mark Twain. Would you get on Mark Twain's case for being tough on slave owners in the south?"
Later, Corn, who compared the fight to one between a "ballet dancer and [an] IRS tax auditor," praised Stewart for suggesting that polls show Fox viewers are misinformed. He inaccurately asserted, "Jon Stewart had the facts on his side and Wallace didn't respond."
Matthews didn't correct him on this point. However, the MRC's Rich Noyes explained in a June 20th NewsBusters blog:
Unfortunately for Stewart, he was relying on a methodologically-flawed survey from the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) that in December trumpeted how "those who watched Fox News almost daily were significantly more likely than those who never watched it to believe...." and then listed a series of supposedly false statements.
For example, Fox News viewers were most likely to believe that "most economists have estimated the health care law will worsen the deficit" and that "the economy is getting worse." Agreeing with those statements got you branded as "misinformed" based on the authority of a) the Congressional Budget Office on ObamaCare's impact on the deficit, and b) the Bureau of Economic Analysis declaring that the recession officially ended in June 2009.
As anyone who closely followed the health care debate understood, the nonpartisan CBO was required to accept the budgetary assumptions of the partisan Democrats who crafted the ObamaCare bill, so it's hardly a sign of ignorance to believe the bill will drain the Treasury like every other big entitlement program in the past 75 years.
A partial transcript of the June 20 segment, which aired at 5:17pm EDT, follows:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Coming up, we got a real prize fight here and it's somewhat imbalanced. Jon Stewart smashing his way through Chris Wallace's face to make a point. It is brutal fight. What an assault against Fox that he led Sunday morning.
DAVID CORN: My advice to Chris Wallace is never try to outwit a true wit, which is Jon Stewart. I mean, Chris didn't look like he brought the ammo to this fight at the O.K. Corral, which he was trying to wage.
MATTHEWS: He wielded a Howitzer.
CORN: He's up against Mark Twain. Would you get on Mark Twain's case for being tough on slave owners in the south? I mean, I thought it was like two different worlds colliding and Chris didn't look like he had a foot in either one.
MATTHEWS: You know, Alex, I was waiting- he was thinking that John was going to say, yeah, you got me on that, yeah, you're right and I'm wrong. Fox is right. I'm wrong. It was- He was pretty smart in responding to him with nuance. Give me a break. Did I say herpes was the same as Sarah Palin? You're the one that picked up on that.
MATTHEWS: Jon Stewart, whatever you think of his politics, and I think he's generally right, he's so frickin' smart that you cannot take him on mano-a-mano.
CORN: I think that Jon Stewart just said you can't touch me. I mean, it was like watching a ballet dancer and IRS tax auditor. I mean, there was no competition here. He said you can't conceive of my world. You don't understand me. You think you know me. But you have no clue.
MATTHEWS: Let's try to explicate this poetry. It seems to me that Jon Stewart is saying in his defense or offense my number one goal is entertainment. My number two goal, which I have, is to make a point.