From time to time, MSNBC hosts like to do their part to further the meme that Republicans are out to disenfranchise Democratic-leaning constituencies such as blacks and the elderly by using voter ID laws as a back-door way to discourage voting by those groups.

Today Hardball fill-in host Michael Smerconish picked up the baton, interviewing Michael Waldman of the liberal Brennan Center for Justice about his group's claim that its new "comprehensive study" finds five million Americans will be effectively disenfranchised in 2012 thanks to new voter ID laws in numerous states.

For his part, Smerconish did play a bit of devil's advocate:

The debut of Al Sharpton's new program on MSNBC did not go very well Monday.

As TVNewser reported, "PoliticsNation" actually attracted less viewers than Michael Smerconish did guest-hosting for Chris Matthews on "Hardball":

As NewsBusters previously reported, MSNBC contributor Michael Smerconish on Thursday, while substitute hosting for Chris Matthews on "Hardball," actually floated the absurd conspiracy theory that Rupert Murdoch had staged the pie throwing event during his hearing before Parliament Tuesday in order to distract from his testimony.

On Saturday's "Fox News Watch," Jim Pinkerton referenced this piece (video follows with transcript and commentary):

The media's attention on Rupert Murdoch and the British hacking scandal hit a new low Thursday.

Filling in for MSNBC's Chris Matthews, Michael Smerconish finished "Hardball" with a segment floating the conspiracy theory that Rupert Murdoch staged Tuesday's Parliamentary pie throwing incident to distract everyone's attention from his testimony (video follows with transcript and commentary):

Chris Matthews, joined by two liberal talk radio hosts on Tuesday's Hardball, essentially blamed the likes of conservative hosts like Mark Levin for creating the climate of hate that led to the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords as the envious MSNBC host proclaimed: "People like Mark Levin, Michael Savage...every time you listen to them are furious, furious at the left with anger that's just builds and builds in their voice and by the time they go to commercial, they're just in some rage, every night, with ugly talk....They must have an audience. I looked at the numbers today. They have big audiences! And I guess that's the question. Why and is it ever going to stop if it keeps working?"

Before that Matthews rant, Philadelphia area radio host Michael Smerconish coined a word in his attack on conservative chatter as he talked about "the hatriolic comments" he's heard and in referring to a scene he saw at a town hall meeting worried: "These are people who are on the edge and if somebody pushes them over, God help us all."

E. Steven Collins, another Philly area talker, sided with Arizona Sheriff Clarence Dupnik who attacked Rush Limbaugh, as he hailed: "The sheriff in Tucson was absolutely right...It does impact people who may have a mental problem or may not" and added that there was a "direct relationship" with Sarah Palin putting crosshairs on her Web site over Giffords' district and the loss of a life of "that little girl who went down to meet the congressperson." 

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Chris Matthews, on Tuesday's Hardball, accused Fox News of "whipping up white hysteria" over allegations of the New Black Panther Party intimidating voters in Philadelphia as he wondered, at the top of his show, if there was "a rightist strategy to stir up racial resentment among whites by portraying whites as victims of black rule?" The Hardball host, during a discussion about the New Black Panther Party case with Philadelphia radio talk show hosts Michael Smerconish and E. Steven Collins, claimed that "Fox News and its friends" were pushing the story to motivate voters in the midterms because "I think there's nothing the Republican Party likes better than a nice, scared white voter. Let's be honest about it."

While Matthews did agree with Smerconish, about some of the merits of the case, the thrust of the segment was that Fox News and the right were pushing the New Black Panther Party story to race-bait as Matthews claimed: "This is just an attempt by the people on the right, I guess, especially Fox, to just keep pushing this, this beach ball in the air until it finally creates some noise."

The following teaser and full segment were aired on the July 27 Hardball:

Jeffrey Zaslow of The Wall Street Journal reported on political gaffes on Wednesday, and as an expert he brought on Obama-loving former Republican Michael Smerconish. Unsurprisingly, Smerconish bashed Ann Coulter and forgave Michelle Obama as he discussed his "Muzzle Meter" and the severity of scandalous words:  

We've become a culture that is unforgiving when it comes to poor word choice, says syndicated radio host Michael Smerconish. "We're far too thin-skinned, starting federal investigations every time someone says something stupid." He blames political partisanship and a 24/7 media looking for "gotcha" moments. Web sites such as,, and traffic in verbal gaffes.

Mr. Smerconish, a lifelong Republican who this year announced he is now an independent, has developed a "Muzzle Meter," asking listeners to help him measure, on a scale of 1 to 10, whether poor word choices are innocent mistakes (a 1 or a 2) or were said with malice (a 9 or a 10).

A month ago, The Washington Post editorial page was dropping rhetorical bombs on conservative Republican Ken Cuccinelli for investigating ClimateGate. The headline at the top of the paper's May 7 editorial page (now scrubbed online) was "Mr. Cuccinelli's witch hunt: Virginia's attorney general declares war on academic freedom and climate reality." It began:

WE KNEW Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) had declared war on reality. Now he has declared war on the freedom of academic inquiry as well. We hope that Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) and the University of Virginia have the spine to repudiate Mr. Cuccinelli's abuse of the legal code. If they do not, the quality of Virginia's universities will suffer for years to come.

That's an unsigned staff editorial, not some fulminating columnist with a byline. But these very same Washington Post editorial page staffers offered space on Friday to alleged conservative Michael Smerconish to trash cable news bookers at Fox News and CNN for wrecking America with "polarized politics."  

The producer asked whether CNN could identify me as a conservative. "Well, if someone who supports harsh interrogation, thinks we should be out of Iraq but in Pakistan, doesn't care much if two guys hook up, and believes we should legalize pot and prostitution is conservative, fine," I replied.

Chris Matthews gave his old Philly talk radio show host friend Michael Smerconish a platform, on Tuesday's Hardball, to boldy proclaim what anybody who's paid attention to Smerconish for the past few years has already known, that he is no longer a Republican. In explaining his decision to register as an independent Smerconish insisted he couldn't "play wind-up talk radio" and "read the GOP talking points" like the much more successful Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Glossing over the fact that the aformentioned hosts have repeatedly criticized the GOP when they betrayed conservative principles, Matthews pondered: "Do you think they honestly believe what they say?" [audio available here]

When NBC's "Today" show, on Wednesday, devoted an entire segment asking the question "How Should the GOP Battle Back?" who did they turn to, to offer strategic advice? Leftist Nation editor/publisher Katrina Vanden Heuvel and self-described "moderate" radio talk show host Michael Smerconish. What? Was Meghan McCain not available? Not surprisingly neither guest suggested the Republican Party should be consistent in expressing and acting on conservative principles as Vanden Heuvel railed:

On Wednesday's "Today" show, NBC's Chuck Todd called the decision of Arlen Specter – a Republican senator who has such a liberal voting record and has been such a constant-thorn-in-the-side of his party that he faced probable defeat in his own primary – to leave the GOP, "devastating." In a piece about Barack Obama's first 100 days that trumpeted his own network's new poll showing high ratings for Obama, Todd buried the GOP: "But for the Republican Party it's devastating, not just to their hopes of slowing President Obama's agenda in Congress but for what it says about the future of the GOP."

Todd then aired a sound bite from a Philadelphia area radio talk show host Michael Smerconish who advised the best way for the GOP to win seats was to "clone" Specter.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, AUTHOR, MORNING DRIVE: The Republican Party in the aftermath of the presidential race should have come to him and tried to clone him. They need more Arlen Specters. And instead they deride him as a R.I.N.O - Republican In Name Only.

The following is the full segment as it was aired on the April 29, "Today" show:

Updated below. 

Chris Matthews questioned Rush Limbaugh’s patriotism on Wednesday night’s "Hardball," as the MSNBC host wondered how the radio talk show host could dare to oppose Barack Obama as he exclaimed to his viewers: "Does Rush Limbaugh hate this country?" Matthews jumped on a quote from Limbaugh saying of Obama, "I hope he fails," apparently not understanding the concept that Limbaugh opposes any and all who would promote liberal policies precisely because he believes they will be harmful to the country. To see Limbaugh's quote in full context visit his official site. Matthews slammed Limbaugh in the following tease before going to a commercial break (audio excerpt here):

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Up next, does Rush Limbaugh hate this country? Wait till you hear what he said about the new president. He wants him to fail. What an amazing-, I've never heard anybody say they wanted a new president to fail. Usually you want the new president to succeed and then later on you argue the politics of what he or she does. But to want them to fail at the outset? What's that about?

Later in his "Sideshow" segment Matthews aired a sound bite from Limbaugh and then snidely remarked: "Well Rush must have a lot of acorns squirreled away not to share everyone else's hopes that the economy does come back."

The following Matthews outbursts were aired on the January 21 edition of "Hardball":