PDA

View Full Version : Chris Matthews: Objective journalist


Thus Spoke Elvis
11-06-2008, 04:24 PM
I'd say this is far worse (http://newsbusters.org/blogs/mark-finkelstein/2008/11/06/odd-job-matthews-says-his-role-make-obama-presidency-success) than his comment about an Obama speech giving him a thrill up his leg.

Edit: Full clip is here (http://www.cjr.org/the_kicker/chris_matthews_my_job_is_to_he.php).

AemJeff
11-06-2008, 04:51 PM
I'd say this is far worse (http://newsbusters.org/blogs/mark-finkelstein/2008/11/06/odd-job-matthews-says-his-role-make-obama-presidency-success) than his comment about an Obama speech giving him a thrill up his leg.

Give Matthews three years and I'm betting he'll despise this President as much as he has the previous two. He was also pretty smitten with McCain not too long ago.

Thus Spoke Elvis
11-06-2008, 04:55 PM
Give Matthews three years and I'm betting he'll despise this President as much as he has the previous two.

Unless he runs as a Democrat for the Senate seat Arlen Specter will likely be vacating in 2010, as is rumored.

TwinSwords
11-06-2008, 04:58 PM
I'm not sure I see the problem. Couple of things:

(1) Is he really an objective journalist, or is he more of a pundit? I think of him as the later. Does anyone really consider him the former?

(2) If he said his job was to support Obama, right or wrong, it would mean what Newsbusters seems to think it means. But he didn't say that (in that clip). He said his goal was to make the presidency successful. That could easily mean he will be criticizing Obama in an attempt to move in the right direction.

Thus Spoke Elvis
11-06-2008, 05:25 PM
I'm not sure I see the problem. Couple of things:

(1) Is he really an objective journalist, or is he more of a pundit? I think of him as the later. Does anyone really consider him the former?

(2) If he said his job was to support Obama, right or wrong, it would mean what Newsbusters seems to think it means. But he didn't say that (in that clip). He said his goal was to make the presidency successful. That could easily mean he will be criticizing Obama in an attempt to move in the right direction.

I just found the full clip (http://www.cjr.org/the_kicker/chris_matthews_my_job_is_to_he.php) at the Columbia Journalism Review blog, which provides the full discussion.

Two things:

(1) I've often heard Matthews characterize himself as a journalist, and his MSNBC bio (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3080432/) labels him a journalist/news anchor rather than a pundit or political analyst (as is the case with Pat Buchanan (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3080416/), for example). And if he wasn't officially acting as the anchor or co-anchor of MSNBC's election coverage on November 4, it was in all but name.

(2) Several of the Morning Joe guests tried to get Matthews to back off, and he finally took the hint. But as the panel noted, while Matthews now claims we shouldn't "question people's motives," he had no problem postulating about the unstated motives behind any number of things that Bush & company did. And as the other people on the panel rightly noted, a journalist's job is to ask questions so the public is informed, not to support the presidency (why is that so important, as opposed to supporting the legislature, the individual, or any other particular entity?). Journalists may choose not to report or ask about things because they deem them to be irrelevant, but not because they think it wouldn't support the president. And given Matthew's past statements during this election year about Obama, it seems to me that we shouldn't give him the same benefit of the doubt that we'd give, say, Jim Lehrer.

AemJeff
11-06-2008, 05:31 PM
Unless he runs as a Democrat for the Senate seat Arlen Specter will likely be vacating in 2010, as is rumored.

Which would very likely put me in the position of having to decide whether or not to vote for him. I'm not sure sure which way I'd go.

cognitive madisonian
11-06-2008, 10:59 PM
I find it very unlikely that Specter will retire. The man served through two bouts of cancer, including one bout of brain cancer. He is a machine. He'll serve till he dies.

Specter is very hard on his staff but he gets stuff done. He'll certainly crush Chris Matthews should that be the matchup. The Democrats would have a legit chance if they ran Jason Altmire.

JoeK
11-06-2008, 11:53 PM
Matthews is OK. Not a big deal. Arguably, he is being bold and experimenting with the medium. I wish him well.
Speaking of msnbc, has anyone noticed, as I have, what a great potential Joe Scarborough still has in politics? I think he would have beaten Obama in these elections easily.
I know there is some resentment among Republicans over his disloyalty to Bush and the party. I think that's all skin-deep.
Scarborough for president in 2012!

bjkeefe
11-07-2008, 02:18 AM
Alterman (http://mediamatters.org/altercation/200811060007#9):

Chris Matthews: "I Want To Do Everything I Can To Make This New Presidency Work"

Joe Scarborough: That's Not Your Job As A Journalist

We agree it's not Matthews' job as a journalist. But I guess it was Scarborough's job as a journalist, back in 2004, to appear on the podium in a show of support (http://mediamatters.org/rd?to=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.msnbc.msn.com%2Fid%2F565188 4%2F%3F%23040813e) for George W. Bush, something of which his bosses at MSNBC later defended. So nobody at MSNBC is really a "journalist," but it's OK when it's done on behalf of George W. Bush ...

Thus Spoke Elvis
11-07-2008, 08:08 AM
There's an important distinction between the responsibilities of political pundits and journalists. Scarborough was a pundit/analyst in 2004, not a journalist. At the time he hosted an awful Hannity-like show called Scarborough Country; he wasn't co-anchoring MSNBC's election coverage like Chris Matthews.

I see a big distinction to be made between a TV pundit like George Will attending a political rally than I would have with someone like Tim Russert.

bjkeefe
11-07-2008, 08:42 AM
There's an important distinction between the responsibilities of political pundits and journalists. Scarborough was a pundit/analyst in 2004, not a journalist. At the time he hosted an awful Hannity-like show called Scarborough Country; he wasn't co-anchoring MSNBC's election coverage like Chris Matthews.

I see a big distinction to be made between a TV pundit like George Will attending a political rally than I would have with someone like Tim Russert.

I take your first point, but I'm puzzled by your second -- didn't you think of Russert as a journalist, too, at least by the Matthews standard?

The whole "journalist" thing, coming from TV people, is largely a crock, IMNSHO. I mean, Bill O'Reilly and Michelle Malkin never miss an opportunity to label themselves as journalists. And I still remember Dan Rather, on Letterman, pledging fealty to George W. Bush.

In any case, I'd rather have TV news people, whatever you want to call them, be up front about where they're coming from, rather than pretending they are any sort of neutral observer.

Thus Spoke Elvis
11-07-2008, 10:46 AM
I take your first point, but I'm puzzled by your second -- didn't you think of Russert as a journalist, too, at least by the Matthews standard?

Sorry for the garbled text. I was trying to say that I don't have the same problem with a self-identified political pundit like George Will speaking at a political rally as I would have with a journalist/news anchor like Tim Russert. Their roles are different, and so are their responsibilities.

The whole "journalist" thing, coming from TV people, is largely a crock, IMNSHO. I mean, Bill O'Reilly and Michelle Malkin never miss an opportunity to label themselves as journalists.

I don't think most people would consider them such. At most, they're pundits who occassionally engage in journalism. There's a reason why Fox News doesn't have O'Reilly anchor their election coverage, even though he's their biggest draw; it would blatantly cross a line that Fox is only willing to dance around (I have problems with that, too, but that's another story).

In any event, even if the line between hackery and journalism has blurred considerably, I think we shouldn't simply acquiesce to it.

And I still remember Dan Rather, on Letterman, pledging fealty to George W. Bush. In any case, I'd rather have TV news people, whatever you want to call them, be up front about where they're coming from, rather than pretending they are any sort of neutral observer.

Rather had an interesting discussion (http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/btw/transcript1.html) with Bill Moyers about this a few years later. Part of the reason I never cared for Rather was that he so obviously wore his heart on his sleeve. Bob Schieffer is a close friend of the Bush family, but he plays it much closer to the middle in his interviews. I attended an off-the-record talk about people's attitudes in the aftermath of 9/11 where Schieffer was part of the panel, and he didn't go nearly as far as Rather did on Letterman.


There are lots of fields of work where people are able to keep their personal opinions to themselves (e.g., law, medicine, psychiatry, the military, and even academia to a large degree); journalists should be just as capable.

bjkeefe
11-07-2008, 01:04 PM
Sorry for the garbled text. I was trying to say that I don't have the same problem with a self-identified political pundit like George Will speaking at a political rally as I would have with a journalist/news anchor like Tim Russert. Their roles are different, and so are their responsibilities.

Thanks for the clarification.

Not much to add to the rest. One quibble:

There are lots of fields of work where people are able to keep their personal opinions to themselves (e.g., law, medicine, psychiatry, the military, and even academia to a large degree); journalists should be just as capable.

I think a lot do, and most real reporters are able to do their jobs without their political leanings turning them into hacks. In fact, I think many liberal-leaning reporters tend to overcompensate.

I'm thinking mostly print reporters here, along with NPR. TV people I don't much care about. Apart from a few exceptions, most of them strike me as empty suits, and every good one I can think of these days is openly partisan.

There's another quibble here, too. It's a little silly to compare, say, doctors keeping their political opinions to themselves to political reporters/commentators doing the same. Talking about politics is what the latter are paid to do, and so much of politics is affected by perception. That's why I'd rather know where a political reporter be upfront about where he or she is coming from -- if I know the bias, I can filter it back out.

Thus Spoke Elvis
11-07-2008, 01:22 PM
There's another quibble here, too. It's a little silly to compare, say, doctors keeping their political opinions to themselves to political reporters/commentators doing the same. Talking about politics is what the latter are paid to do, and so much of politics is affected by perception. That's why I'd rather know where a political reporter be upfront about where he or she is coming from -- if I know the bias, I can filter it back out.

I don't think there's anything to add, but I just wanted to clarify that I talked about doctors keeping their personal opinions to themselves. Doctors and therapists rarely tell their patients just what they think of them and their problems (e.g., your weak-willed, you really should leave your boyfriend). Likewise, journalists can be really interested in politics, but that doesn't mean they should be incapable of seeing the distinction between reporting and opining.

bjkeefe
11-07-2008, 09:44 PM
I don't think there's anything to add, but I just wanted to clarify that I talked about doctors keeping their personal opinions to themselves.

What about doctors who won't perform abortions?


Likewise, journalists can be really interested in politics, but that doesn't mean they should be incapable of seeing the distinction between reporting and opining.

Agreed. Still, I would rather know where a reporter is coming from than not.

cognitive madisonian
11-08-2008, 10:42 AM
I don't think there's anything to add, but I just wanted to clarify that I talked about doctors keeping their personal opinions to themselves. Doctors and therapists rarely tell their patients just what they think of them and their problems (e.g., your weak-willed, you really should leave your boyfriend). Likewise, journalists can be really interested in politics, but that doesn't mean they should be incapable of seeing the distinction between reporting and opining.

I agree. The unfortunate trend is toward opinion journalism, both on television on the internet.

The press, as a whole, is usually biased to the Democrat. The exception to this is in 2000--some studies have been done showing that Bush received more favorable coverage. Our past election was downright embarrassing in this regard, as journalists worshiped at the alter of Obama.

nikkibong
12-04-2008, 12:49 PM
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1208/16190.html

i actually find Hardball to be the only show on cable news worth watching. (with the exception of the occasional comic relief of hannity and colmes or the o'reilly factor.)

bjkeefe
12-04-2008, 01:13 PM
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1208/16190.html

i actually find Hardball to be the only show on cable news worth watching. (with the exception of the occasional comic relief of hannity and colmes or the o'reilly factor.)

Have you watched Rachel Maddow at all? I haven't become a regular watcher, but I subscribed to her show's feed and look at the occasional segment. She's really good.

uncle ebeneezer
12-04-2008, 03:08 PM
Maddow is the best. She gives great pushback on GOP/Fox bs, but without nearly as much pomposity as Olbermann.

TwinSwords
12-04-2008, 03:44 PM
Maddow is the best. She gives great pushback on GOP/Fox bs, but without nearly as much pomposity as Olbermann.

Agreed! Olbermann is still incredibly good, IMO. He may offend some people, but he delivers important news not avaialble anywhere else on television (except, now, Maddow's show).

I know he irritates some on the left, but we're better off with him than we would be without him.

TwinSwords
12-04-2008, 03:45 PM
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1208/16190.html

i actually find Hardball to be the only show on cable news worth watching. (with the exception of the occasional comic relief of hannity and colmes or the o'reilly factor.)

I agree he's got a good show. It has really gotten a lot better in the last year or so. He's now reliably liberal. There was a time not too long ago when he had his head up George W. Bush's ass and would actually blow Tom DeLay right on the air.

I don't know what explains his transformation. Maybe he has figured out that MSNBC is doing better as the liberal network than it has ever done in any other form. And maybe the fact that his contract expires next summer has encouraged him to ingratiate himself to Olbermann, who apparently has enormous sway within MSNBC.

I still find the premise of this thread, by TSE, that Matthews should be "objective," completely laughable and totally selective. When's the last time a conservative complained about rightwing media bias.

Never.

(Okay, never is too strong. How about "very, very, very, very, rarely.")

nikkibong
12-04-2008, 11:39 PM
I actually think that the bush-love and delay-fellation* (by the way, how am i supposed to get a wink of sleep tonight after you presented me with an image like that?) started around the drum-up to the iraq war, which Matthews opposed from the beginning.

*insert he "Swings both ways" joke here.