Romney won, Rudy lost. That's Chris Matthews' take on the GOP presidential debate he moderated on MSNBC last night. Matthews made his views clear during his appearance on this morning's "Today." Meredith Vieira, who interviewed Matthews at 7:09 EDT, seemed to share her colleague's assessment.
TODAY CO-HOST MEREDITH VIEIRA: Winners and losers in your assessment?

MSNBC HOST CHRIS MATTHEWS: Oh, come on. Well, let me just say I thought that just factually, Giuliani stood out on the issue of abortion rights, clearly. At one point I asked if they would be happy, if it would be a good day for America, if the courts struck down Roe v. Wade, the court decision back in '73 that gave a woman the right to an abortion, and he said 'that would be OK,' Very tentative. And then later on he reasserted his position that he is for abortion rights. So I think that separated him on a big issue.

VIEIRA: Yeah, but Chris, he also said it would be OK if a strict constructionist judge upheld Roe v. Wade. It sounded like he was talking out of both sides of his mouth there.

View video here

Not that there's anything wrong with that . . .

Actually, Bill Maher didn't add that Seinfeldesque qualifier when describing Republican affection for Ronald Reagan. Maher was a guest on this afternoon's "Hardball." In the course of taking a cheap shot at Fred Thompson, this Cornell alum [what is it about my alma mater, which also churned out Keith Olbermann?] had this to say:
BILL MAHER: It amuses me so much that the Republicans now are talking about the great charisma of Fred Thompson, basset-hound faced Fred Thompson. The Republican party has this campy fixation with Ronald Reagan. It is almost gay about the way they are talking about him and obsessing about him.

Over at The Hillary Spot on NRO, a great spot for keeping up with the presidential campaign, Jim Geraghty found that Chris Matthews wasn't exactly playing "Hardball" before the Democratic debate. But he did imply that Bush was a little racist because he was faster to arrive on the scene at Virginia Tech than in New Orleans after Katrina.

Substitute hosting for Chris Matthews on last night's Hardball it didn't take long for David Shuster to bring up the specter of gun control in the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting. Shuster indicated that gun policies actually "enabled" the shooter to obtain his "weapons of choice." The following was Shuster's intro for the April 16th edition of "Hardball."

On last night's Hardball NBC's Jonathan Alter managed to shoe-horn an anti-Bush jab during a discussion about Don Imus.

Andrea Mitchell and Chris Matthews orchestrated a rather obvious flip-flop Monday of a controversial statement the former made on the “Chris Matthews Show” the day before.

In a nutshell, Matthews’ Sunday panel was discussing the politics of Iraq. During several instances, Mitchell stated that Gen. David Petraeus had recently had a private meeting with the Republican caucus promising progress in the embattled nation by August.

The next day on “Hardball,” Matthews, in the middle of a discussion about presidential candidates, suddenly asked Mitchell about Petraeus. She answered by stating the general had recently addressed both Republicans and Democrats about progress in Iraq, after which the discussion quickly reverted back to presidential candidates (video available here).

Here's what Mitchell said Sunday that apparently needed correcting:

UPDATE at post's bottom.

Lt. Col. Rick Francona (USAF Retired) is an MSNBC military analyst who also writes for the network's "Hardblogger" blog. But while Francona has plenty of thoughts on how to deal with Iran's hostage-taking and on the notion of setting a withdrawal deadline for U.S. troops in Iraq, a review of Nexis showed zero hits for Francona on MSNBC recently, and only one appearance on NBC's "Nightly News" the day after the British servicement were taken hostage. And even then, he was featured with a sound bite about the Pat Tillman investigation.

Here are the headlines and dates for his three most recent "Hardblogger" entries:


The 15 British sailors and Royal Marines were captured on March 23. Francona has written more on Iran specifically and the Middle East in general, it's just not all been posted to MSNBC's Web site. Francona runs his own Web log, Middle East Perspectives, and has a few additional posts in the same time period, including one dated March 25 explaining the long-disputed Shatt al-Arab waterway in which Iran captured its British hostages.

So given Francona's expertise and his being on the MSNBC payroll, he's been pretty busy appearing on air, right?

Well, a Nexis search for "Rick Francona" among MSNBC documents from March 19-April 3 turned up no hits.

Chris Matthews attacked campaign fund donations to Mitt Romney last night on Hardball, calling the entire system of political fund raising "unsavory" along with claiming that Romney's contributors in particular are all "rich people" and people who are "loaded". In fact, he didn't seem to understand at all why anyone would even donate to a Romney campaign because he thinks everyone sees him as a "stranger".

As a devout conservative, I must say that I was shocked – shocked I tell you, shocked! – to find out that I don’t like sex. Alas, if Chris Matthews says so, who am I to question it, right?

Time magazine's cover story image as reality? Displaying a mini-instance of pack journalism, MSNBC and CNN shows on Thursday afternoon and night pounced on Time magazine's cover story, “The Verdict on Cheney” beside a picture of Cheney under some dark clouds, as evidence Cheney's influence is declining in the White House in the wake of the Scooter Libby verdict. It may be, but the graphics on a magazine cover hardly proves it. Plugging an interview with Michael Duffy, the author of the cover story, MSNBC's Chris Matthews asserted on Hardball: “More coming here about amazing problems facing the Vice President. He's on the cover of Time magazine as we speak and it looks bad.”

On CNN's Paula Zahn Now, Zahn trumpeted how “tonight we're bring out into the open Vice President Cheney's downhill slide” which is “not pretty” and is illustrated by, as she instructed viewers, “Look at the cover of the new Time magazine: The Vice President under a dark cloud. The headline: 'The Verdict on Cheney.' The story inside even brands him as 'the enemy within' the White House, dragging the whole administration down with him." Over on MSNBC's Countdown at the same 8pm EST hour, fill-in host Alison Stewart highlighted how “special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald referred to the quote, 'cloud over the Vice President' in his summation at the Libby trial. The folks at Time magazine painting that cloud over Mr. Cheney quite literally in their art for the new cover story, going as far as to call him quote, 'one of Bush's biggest liabilities.'"

The headline is that Ann Redington, Libby juror #10, wants Scooter to get a pardon. But there's actually a bigger story. It is Redington herself. If you have a chance to watch a replay of her appearance on this afternoon's Hardball, billed as an exclusive, I'd urge you to do so. She is enough to renew one's faith in the goodness and intelligence of our fellow Americans.

As Matthews observed, Redington demonstrated an impressive ability to separate the wheat from the chaff in the trial, and appeared open, honest and without any political ax to grind.

View video here. The clip is longer than usual because I consider Redington's comments to be of historical and cultural significance.

Excerpts from the interview:

Matthews: "What did you think of Scooter?"

Re: I thought he seemed like a really nice guy. It wouldn't matter if he were a nice guy or not, the whole thing was obviously very difficult to have someone's future in your hands. But he seemed like a ton of fun."