Matthews Accuses Clintons of 'Blaming the Ref'

NBC News has grown so pro-Obama that their coverage of the 2008 election has become rabidly anti-Clinton. Matt Lauer began his interview with Chris Matthews by highlighting Bill Clinton’s revival of the Hillary Clinton sniper controversy and the former president’s inaccurate defense of his wife’s inaccurate statement. Matthews even brought up Clinton’s notorious line "it depends on what your definition of ‘is’ is."

Moving on to the Clinton camp’s complaints about media coverage, Matthews drew a sports analogy that "when your losing you blame the ref. When you’re winning you don’t." Matthews, who claimed to have a "thrill running up [his] leg" when he hears Obama speak, is hardly a referee in this game.

At the end, Matthews did offer kind words to John McCain opining he has a good reputation and has "been fighting for this country all these years."

The entire transcript is below.


MATT LAUER: Chris Matthews is the host of "Hardball" on MSNBC as well as "The Chris Matthews Show." Hey Chris, good morning to you.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Good morning Matt.

LAUER: Kind of potpourri. Let's talk about Bill Clinton getting back in the campaign cross hairs this week. He made some statements during several campaign appearances about that Bosnia flap involving his wife when she was first lady and sniper fire that turned out to not be sniper fire. Let me let you listen and we'll talk about it on the other side.

FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: I got tickled the other day when a lot of the way this whole campaign has been covered has amused me, but there was a lot of fomenating, because Hillary, one time, late at night, when she was exhausted, misstated and immediately apologized for it what happened to her in Bosnia in 1995. Did you all see all of that? Oh, they blew it up.

LAUER: Chris here's my This story had all but gone away. So why would the former president bring it up now? And then I'll ask you another question about what he had to say.

MATTHEWS: Well, I think there's a rational answer and an irrational answer. The rational answer is that the Clintons are not giving up on their hopes to come back to the White House, even if they don't get it this time. I think this president is very concerned about the legacy and he doesn't want this laughing matter about his wife, Senator Clinton, claiming to have been under sniper fire in Bosnia to be the last story of this campaign. I think if she does lose the fight for the nomination, he wants it to end on a solid, positive, sober note and not with a laughing out there.

LAUER: Not to pick on the Clintons, but there's another problem with what he had to say. It was inaccurate. He said that on one occasion late at night when she was exhausted, she misstated the facts of the Bosnia trip when the fact is, she said it on three occasions, the last time coming in the morning. And they didn't immediately clear it up, they waited a week. So he talks about a story of inaccuracy and he defends it inaccurately.

MATTHEWS: Yeah. I think that's odd because so many times in that statement he made that you just showed -- we can watch it all day, I guess, on MS, it's filled with inaccuracies. Why would he bring it up and then, you know, say it's not about your definition of what is is, but what was was, many times.

LAUER: But is this a whole blame the media idea and does that work?

MATTHEWS: Well, you were just talking about Yankee Stadium being rebuilt, the house that Ruth built. I think that everybody who's followed competition in American life knows that when you're losing, you blame the ref and when you're winning, you don't. They're not doing well right now. They could do very well in Pennsylvania, but the Clinton people are angry. They're angry at the way that she's been treated. They're angry at the way the campaign's going. But look what's being shaken up. They're shaking up their campaign. I think getting rid of Mark Penn and moving some other people around, getting rid of the campaign manager, Patti Solis Doyle, they haven't ran an effective media campaign. I mean, on MS for example, we're offering them an hour of free time right before the primary in Pennsylvania, an hour of free time to be repeated twice, right before the vote. They haven't taken it yet. They're not doing a good media campaign.

LAUER: Let me move on and you mentioned Pennsylvania. The polls there are tightening after Senator Clinton had what seemed to be a double-digit lead in the last several weeks. It's now down a little bit below that. First of all, why is it tightening? And secondly, forget the popular vote in Pennsylvania since there's a proportional system with the Democrats. How do you think the delegate count is going to shake out in that state?

MATTHEWS: The answer to your first question is that Bill Clinton is very popular in Pennsylvania, extremely popular. That helps Senator Clinton in the beginning. She got a jump by going in there early and campaigning heavily all across the state. Barack got in there late. His TV advertising is three to one in Pennsylvania right now. I don't think he's going to close the gap. I think he's lucky to get within eight points. I think these polls are deceiving because there's a lot of people claiming to be undecided. I think those undecideds are going to go for Senator Clinton. I think that's what's going on up there.

LAUER: And real quickly, latest polls nationally, if we move to November has a McCain/Obama match-up dead heat, 45-45, s McCain/Clinton match-up, 45-48 with Senator Clinton leading. I ask this question only because in this year of everybody calling this the change election, boy you have to look and John McCain is polling pretty strongly. Here's a guy who's been in Washington for decades. He supports the surge and against a couple of change candidates, I guess you could argue, he's doing pretty well.

MATTHEWS: Well, you only get one reputation in life and he's got a good one. He's a military man who served his country, sacrificed for his country, carries the scars of battle, and also he's a maverick. People think of him as a maverick. Now, even though he supports the war, people sense that he has a lot of inner strength. And even though they're against the war, they trust the man's battle courage. He's been in it. He's been fighting for his country all these years. It's going to be a great campaign, I think, between the personalities, the people and the policies. I think the American people are going to have to make up their mind. It's a tough one.

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