The Chris Matthews Comedy Hour
Yesterday when “climbing” the Stairmaster, they had MSNBC on at my gym. I had quite a laugh watching Chris Matthews. He was talking about the President’s European trip. And while he didn’t quite get a thrill up his leg, I was wondering if they kept drool buckets on hand at MSNBC.
He reported the trip much as Soviet television must have reported a Brezhnev trip to North America back in Communism’s heyday. Matthews just couldn’t praise him enough. And then he brought on two panelists to discuss the speech, Richard Wolfe, the network’s political analyst and E. Steven Collins, a radio talk show host.
I don’t think they intended me to find humor in their groveling.
The primary difference between the two panelists was the words they used to praise the president’s trip and to distinguish him from his predecessor. Contrast their shared political sentiments with those of most two-person panels on FoxNews (excluding Hannity’s show). That news network almost always pairs ideological adversaries, Republican with Democrat, conservative with liberal, Bush-supporter with Bush-critic, Obama-critic with Obama-supporter.
It was in watching FoxNews that I grew to respect such Democrats as Bill Richardson, Susan Estrich and Geraldine Ferraro for their sober commentary and intelligent criticism of Republicans. They eschewed ad hominem and often made thoughtful arguments for liberal candidates and ideas.
And yet, the left accuses that more balanced network of being biased.
As I laughed at Matthews’ sycophancy, I wondered at his fellow MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann’s anger, how each of us reacted differently to his political adversaries. And it struck me how frequently conservative media personalities (including bloggers) use humor to respond to liberals whereas our left-wing counterparts respond more often with wrath. (This is not to say that there are not angry conservatives, there are. It’s just that there’s a lot more humor on our side.)
I may have found Matthews’s show humorous, but I don’t think his ideological confrÃ¨res did.
This is another reason why I think Rachel Maddow will do very well. She seeks to score political points with those confrÃ¨res by laughing at her adversaries. From the times I’ve watched her, she strikes me as someone having fun while making fun of people like us. She thus stands in marked contrast to the man who precedes her in the MSNBC lineup.
B. Daniel Blatt