Those poor MSMers. They can't stand Ann Coulter. And they know that every time they vilify Ann, it only serves to drive her fame and sales of her latest book, Godless. But they just can't 'hep' themselves. They can't resist precisely the kind of mean-spirited barbs that make Ann's case and boost her bottom line.

For your viewing pleasure, MSNBC decided to add to the Friday Night Fights series with a special Thursday edition. However, as "Hardball's" producers must have believed the challenger in the left corner, host Chris Matthews, was going to be outmatched by the challenger in the right corner, they decided to film the segment with an audience conveniently stocked with Ann Coulter haters. As a result, the fight turned more into a tag-team wrestling match than traditional mono-a-mono boxing.

It was quite evident from the onset that this was going to be a team effort by Matthews and his audience when he began:

Now, I want to know right off the front -- we`re going to use our audience in a very profane way. Who loves Ann Coulter? (APPLAUSE) Who vomits at the mention of her name? (APPLAUSE)

Nice way to introduce your guest, Chris. It seems impossible to imagine you introducing someone like Al Franken in such a fashion. Yet, Matthews wasn’t done. His next uppercut came only seconds later when he asked Coulter, “Do you have a soul?” This was followed a bit later with a right hook when Matthews said Ann was "All brain, no heart."

With that as pretext, this is a melee that must be watched to be fully appreciated. Here is the video. Pay particular attention to the people standing behind Coulter strategically placed to always be shaking their heads in disgust on virtually every one of her words. And, make sure that you have no drinking vessels around when Matthews asks Coulter to elaborate on the position she recently espoused concerning a former president’s sexual preference. (Transcript follows).

(Update: For those interested, here is a video of the beginning of the interview, as well as another part of this segment.)

Wasn't Tucker Carlson supposed to be MSNBC's conservative counterweight to Olbermann, Matthews, & Co?  I might have to rethink that one, judging by the opening roll of his 'Tucker' show this afternoon, which clearly cast Israel as the heavy in the current conflict. Here's how it went:

  • Open to video of an Israeli tank firing rounds, as an off-screen voice breathlessly announces "Lebanon, under siege" as the scene changes to smoke rising from an urban Lebanese landscape.
  • Cut to a Lebanese couple, with the woman informing us that "our house is bombed, everything is bombed."
  • Cut to what looks like a mosque in ruins. Announcer: "Israel's attack on Hezbollah marches on, and so does the devastating toll on civilian life."
  • Cut to woman in Muslim head shawl comforting distraught young boy with kiss on head.

It is axiomatic that the goal of the foreign policy of the United States should be the advancement of the interests of the United States and not of any other country, no matter how sympathetic, including Israel. That said, should it not give Chris Matthews pause that his pointed anti-neo-con spiel has become indistinguishable from the well-rehearsed Pat Buchanan line on the matter?

It wasn’t the barnburner it could have been, but there was a wonderful mini-flyweight boxing match Friday night on MSNBC’s “Hardball.” In the left corner, weighing 105 pounds, Norah O’Donnell. In the right corner, weighing 100 pounds, Ann Coulter (video to follow).

Does Norah read NewsBusters? Could it be pure coincidence that Hardball's 'What'd You Say?' audio highlights of the week just happened to select the two items we had highlighted here and here? Who knows?

As James Taranto suggested Monday in his WSJ 'Best of the Web' column, at some point you can question a person's patriotism. Cindy Sheehan surely crossed that Rubicon long ago. But just in case there was any doubt, Sheehan made things perfectly clear this evening, flatly stating that she'd rather live under Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez than George Bush.

Ouch! Norah O'Donnell knows how to get a guy where it hurts. And Kim Jong Il might be feeling 'ronrier' than ever.

On this evening's Hardball, Norah, guest-hosting for Chris Matthews, discussed the failed North Korean missile tests with three separate panels. In each case, she used the same Freudian-fraught metaphor for failure:

Just when you're ready to write Chris Matthews off as a hopeless liberal, he pulls something like he did tonight, criticizing the New York Times for its latest leak of an anti-terror program.

"President Bush has broken the law!" That's how viewers of MSNBC's Hardball were greeted last night when Chris Matthews first came on the air. You get the sense that Matthews has been dying to utter those words for a long time now and the Supreme Court's Guantanamo decision gave him the excuse to do so.

As fellow NewsBuster Mithridate Ombud noted today, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll has flatly accused the Bush administration of anti-Semitism in its criticism of The New York Times for its latest leak of an anti-terror program. Claimed Carroll:

On last night's Hardball actress Mia Farrow slipped in the old "Bush went to war for oil," canard during a discussion about Darfur. MSNBC's Chris Matthews asked Farrow what she wanted the American people and government to do about the crisis in Darfur to which Farrow demanded: "Support the relief agencies, and urge our leadership. There is, of course, a lack of political will.