Last night viewers of MSNBC's Hardball were greeted with this jarring intro from Chris Matthews: "The country thought Bush was a pleasant, down to earth guy who would not rock the boat.

Chris Matthews sees W's favorables going up and the Dem generic congressional edge going down. He's ticked, and on tonight's Hardball he made clear his explanation for this revoltin' development: the MSM isn't churning out enough bad news from Iraq.

When Ben Cardin, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Maryland, appeared on this afternoon's Hardball, host Chris Matthews played a Cardin TV ad most of which was taken up by Cardin informing voters that:

"I always try to do what's right, what's in the best interest of Maryland families: taking on the drug companies, the oil companies, the insurance companies."

Chris Matthews is as frustrated as an able-bodied seaman after six months without shore leave. While Matthews clearly senses this is the year for the Dems to snatch back the Speaker's gavel, hisfrustration is born of the fear that the Dems will squander the opportunity out of timidity - an unwillingness to attack President Bush on the war in Iraq.

On Tuesday's Hardball, host Chris Matthews interviewed New York Congressman Tom Reynolds, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.  Mr. Reynolds spoke of the impact if Democrats win a majority in the House of Representatives.

What would you call someone who, as per Project Vote Smart, within the last six years has received a 100% rating from NARAL and Planned Parenthood and a 0% from the National Right-to-Life Committee? A 100% rating from the ACLU. A 0% rating from Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum. A 100% rating from the League of Conservation Voters and a 0% rating from the conservative Family Research Council?

Look no further than NewsBusters for complete coverage of Katie Couric’s debut as the anchor of the "CBS Evening News." The MRC’s Brent Baker began the week by noting a previous Couric claim that she’s not biased, but Fox is. Additionally, the new anchor has hired liberal Douglas Brinkley as the show’s historian. On September 5, Couric appeared on "The Early Show," only to apparently forget the program’s name! (Perhaps the perky anchor should do some homework on her new network.)

Ms. Couric wasn’t the week’s only big news. On September 6, "Hardball" host Chris Matthews talked to a Green Party candidate who called for President Bush’s execution. He later told the man, "I like you already." Somewhat ironically, this was only a day after Matthews wondered if Republicans would be using "fear tactics" and other extreme strategies to get elected. (Perhaps calling for the President’s execution could be an example?)

In another Chris Matthews story, NewsBusters Editor Matthew Sheffield talked to the host and was told the Valerie Plame story is now too complicated for coverage. In international news, Mr. Sheffield also noted the BBC’s continuing refusal to disclose the religious background of terror suspects.

With our very own Matthew Sheffield, literally confronting him last night, it seems like Newsbusters has gotten into Chris Matthews’s head or at least his bookmarks. On last night’s Hardball Matthews confessed to regularly checking out what the blogosphere is saying about him and seemed close to mentioning Newsbusters as one of the sites he visits.

[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."