Years before Barack Obama gave Chris Matthews a “thrill” UP his leg, the Democrat prompted a “chill” IN his leg. In fact, it was 17 years ago this week that the former MSNBC host swooned over the Democrat the media would fall in love with.
During John Kerry’s Democratic National Convention, on July 27, 2004, Matthews used eerily similar language to his more famous outburst: “I have to tell ya a little chill in my, in my legs now. That is an amazing moment in history right there. It is really an amazing moment. A keynoter like I've never heard.”
Sound familiar? At 10:13 PM on February 12, 2008, after Obama won the Democratic presidential primaries in Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C., the Hardball host reacted this way:
I have to tell you, you know, it's part of reporting this case, this election, the feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama's speech. My, I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don't have that too often.
This was too much even for the far-left Keith Olbermann, who weirdly acted as the voice of reason. Olbermann cautioned, “Steady.” Matthews continued:
No, seriously. It's a dramatic event. He speaks about America in a way that has nothing to do with politics. It has to do with the feeling we have about our country. And that is an objective assessment.
As I noted for the 10th anniversary of the “thrill” quote, Matthews became sensitive towards the all the fun being had at his expense. On May 22, 2012, Steve Scully of C-SPAN innocently asked him about it. The visibly irritated host complained:
I’m an un-traditional person, but I have traditional values and I love the country and I said so. Perhaps I shouldn’t have said so because I’ve given a lot of jackasses a chance to talk about it. I hope you feel satisfied that you raised the most obvious question that is raised by every horse’s ass right-winger I ever bump into.
Matthews is no longer with MSNBC. So who will hosts like Joy Reid and Chris Hayes get “thrills” and “chills” from in 2024? Joe Biden? Kamala Harris? Only time will tell.
For more examples from our FLASHBACK series, which we call the NewsBusters Time Machine, go here.