[After being called out by NewsBusters, Matthews ended his boycott late Friday. Be sure and read updates to this post below.]

Since the revelation that Richard Armitage, a former high-ranking official in the State Department, was the source of the much-ballyhooed Valerie Plame "leak," many in the media have refused to touch the story with a ten-foot pole. This was quite a turnaround since before the Armitage involvement was known, many journalists believed the CIA leak story was one worth pursuing on a daily basis. Some even believed it could bring down the Bush White House, or at least end the careers of Karl Rove and Dick Cheney.

One of the biggest media figures boycotting the Plame story has been MSNBC host Chris Matthews, who has yet to mention the scandal at all since the Armitage report broke, a dramatic contrast to the 27 times he mentioned the "scandal" in the five months leading up to it.

Like P.J. Gladnick, I couldn't help but notice Matthews's strange flip. So I decided to ask him about it. His answer revealed an animus toward Vice President Dick Cheney and a fear of being asked to answer tough questions himself.

Last night, I went to a press conference/party held by MSNBC and National Journal celebrating a new venture the two media outlets are launching together. Quite a few NBCers were there, including Chris Matthews. I struck up a conversation with the host about the topic of Plame and why he hadn't talked about the story at all. Here's a rough transcript of our discussion which I wrote down shortly thereafter:

Geoff Dickens had the low-down first on Chris Matthews smiling through kooky Green Party gubernatorial candidate Malachy McCourt's talk about how he'd favor execution if the criminal was Pinochet or George W. Bush. It must depend on which politician is being criticized. On August 19, 2004, when columnist Michelle Malkin suggested it was possible John Kerry may have wounded himself in Vietnam, Matthews huffed after Malkin was evacuated, "We're going to keep things clean on this show. No irresponsible comments are going to be on this show."

After Matthews pounded Malkin on how the Bush campaign should force the withdrawal of the Swift Vet ads, it was comical how out of control Matthews became. He wouldn't let Malkin speak for more than a few seconds without interrupting with outrage. See how very different Malkin was treated, compared with the execute-Bush joker. San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown argued there was no question Kerry was shot in Vietnam, so what else was there to ask?

Video clip of Matthews pouncing on Malkin as he deliberately misconstrued her assertion Kerry suffered a “self-inflicted wound” to be an accusation “he shot himself on purpose” (2:10): Real (3.7 MB) or Windows Media (4.2 MB), plus MP3 audio (650 KB) [Transcript follows.]

MSNBC's Chris Matthews invited on New York gubernatorial Green Party candidate Malachy McCourt, to state his case but when the brother of Angela's Ashes author, Frank McCourt, suggested George W. Bush be tried for war crimes and executed, the Hardball host didn't even flinch. The following exchange occurred on last night's Hardball:

This week, the MRC’s Megan McCormack brought us a second-by-second account of Kyra Phillip’s now infamous "bathroom chat." She also did a follow-up on FNC’s "Fox and Friends" parody of the event. Soon, the story became a full blown media sensation.

Of course, the media heavily focused on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Harry Smith discussed how the residents of New Orleans feel "abandoned" and "forgotten."

NBC's Norah O'Donnell, substituting for host Chris Matthews on last night's Hardball, demanded White House counselor Dan Bartlett defend Donald Rumsfeld's comparison of war critics to Nazi sympathizers. O'Donnell claimed the criticism smacked of "desperation" and cited an L.A. Times editorial to Bartlett that called Rumsfeld's speech, "inane."

Norah O'Donnell, Roger Simon, and Evan Thomas all seemed to agree on tonight's "Hardball" that there's no way that President Bush actually read The Stranger by Albert Camus and three Shakespeare plays as he claimed in an interview with Brian Williams yesterday. In other words, all together now, "Bush is an idiot." The originality of the criticism of President Bush continues to baffle my mind as I'm sure it does yours as well.

One of Rush Limbaugh’s many pet peeves with the "drive-by" media’s coverage of Hurricane Katrina has been reporters nagging that the Bush administration wasn’t doling out money fast enough only to turn around and then complain that much of money has been wasted in various scams. A prime example of this was NBC’s Norah O’Donnell on last night’s Hardball.

Host of MSNBC's "Hardball," Chris Matthews, also hosts a syndicated Sunday morning talk show, "Chris Matthews." The syndicated show just had its five-year anniversary and Broadcasting and Cable magazine interviewed the host.

It’s been noted on this site before that David Shuster’s reports for MSNBC’s Hardball read like DNC press releases and last night was no exception as he attacked the administration on Katrina and Iraq and even found time to slam Sen. George Allen.

Don't laugh. If Lenora Fulani could flirt with Pat Buchanan in 2000, why not a Buchanan-Matthews ticket in 2008? After all, the pair have an important point in common:  contempt for neo-cons.

On tonight's Hardball, Chris Matthews pretty much allowed Howard Dean to slam Sen. George Allen without challenging him on his assertions. Asked about Allen, Dean said that he served with Allen while they were both Governors and that Allen "doesn't belong in public service." Dean also said that Allen "always shooting from the hip, he never thinks through what he means, and he caters to the wrong instincts in people" of which the "macaca" incident is supposedly proof.

As reported last night by Mark Finkelstein, Chris Matthews interviewed Congressman John Murtha’s Republican opponent, Diana Irey, in Pennsylvania’ 12th district on "Hardball". Part of the interview focused on the Haditha incident in Iraq and Congressman Murtha’s statement of condemnation of American troops surrounding the incident.