Thursday, April 17, 2008

Sweet Jesus, I hate Chris Matthews

Today, we are reminded that there is good reason for a blog titled Sweet Jesus I hate Chris Matthews.

Eric Boehlert at Media Matters has the goods on MSNBC's Matthews, doing a sort of greatest-hits-round-up of his misogynist obnoxiousness. Since there appears to be a never-ending supply, that proves to be pretty easy.

This particular jaunt into Matthews' misogyny starts with a story about Matthews in the New York Times, by Mark Leibovich:

“Did you get a load of Lou Rawls’s wife?” Matthews said as he left the spin room. Apparently the Rev. Jesse Jackson was introducing the widow of the R&B singer at the media center. “She was an absolute knockout,” Matthews declared. It’s a common Matthews designation. The actress Kerry Washington was also a “total knockout,” according to Matthews, who by 1 a.m. had repaired to the bar of the Cleveland Ritz-Carlton. He was sipping a Diet Coke and holding court for a cluster of network and political types, as well as for a procession of random glad-handers that included, wouldn’t you know it, Kerry Washington herself. Washington played Ray Charles’s wife in the movie “Ray” and Kay Amin in the “Last King of Scotland.” She is a big Obama supporter and was in town for the debate; more to the point, she said she likes “Hardball.” Matthews grabbed her hand, and Phil Griffin, the head of MSNBC who was seated across the table, vowed to get her on the show.

“I know why he wants you on,” Matthews said to Washington while looking at Griffin.


“He wants you on because you’re beautiful,” Matthews said. “And because you’re black.” He handed Washington a business card and told her to call anytime “if you ever want to hang out with Chris Matthews.”
And that's just the first page.

As the Times reluctantly admitted, Matthews' considerable and undisguised hostility to Hillary Clinton is palpable:
Still, it’s hard to watch Matthews and conclude that he has been anything less than enthralled by Obama and, at the very least, is sick of Clinton. The antipathy dates back some time. Just before the start of Clinton’s first campaign for the Senate in 2000, Matthews said: “Hillary Clinton bugs a lot of guys, I mean, really bugs people — like maybe me on occasion. . . . She drives some of us absolutely nuts.”
One wonders, who is "us"--and he answers: GUYS. Yes, the guys are bothered.

And Chris doesn't like it when you call him sexist, according to the Times.
The conversation moved to what Matthews calls “the sexist thing,” or what Media Matters calls Matthews’s “history of degrading comments about women, in which he focuses on the physical appearances of his female guests and of other women discussed on his program.” This would include Matthews loudly admiring the conservative radio host Laura Ingraham (“You’re great looking, obviously — one of God’s gifts to men in this country”), Elizabeth Edwards (“You’ve got a great face”), Jane Fonda (“You also dazzle us with your beauty and all the good things”), CNBC’s Margaret Brennan (“You’re gorgeous”) and Erin Burnett (“You’re beautiful. . . . You’re a knockout”), among others. The Burnett episode was especially remarked upon. In the video Matthews instructed Burnett to “get a little closer to the camera.” As Burnett became confused, Matthews persisted: “Come on in closer. No, come in — come in further — come in closer. Really close.” It was, at the minimum, uncomfortable to watch.

Matthews says the notion that he is sexist has been pushed unfairly by blogs, women’s groups and, to some degree, the Clinton campaign.
The girl bloggers are after Chris! Well, let me hasten to add my voice, in that case.

But Eric Boehlert believes misogyny has actually propelled Chris to media stardom. After reading his piece, I was put in mind of how certain heavy metal and hip hop stars often look more "cool" and "edgy" when they get down in the dirt and engage in some hearty male-bonding with the dudes by vigorously and repeatedly trashing women.

It's a great career move, as it has been in Matthews' case:
And while a blog swarm did engulf Matthews in January, followed by a forced, pseudo-apology by the host -- and his attacks did prompt some women activists to carry picket signs outside the MSNBC studios -- the openly sexist comments have produced very few condemnations from within the industry and even less soul-searching from the (mostly male) press corps. In fact, in Matthews' case, the sexist outbursts have helped propel his career. That's how he landed on the cover of the Times magazine.

Why? Because misogyny pays.

Question: If Chris Matthews had been forced to apologize to Sen. Barack Obama for divisive, personal comments the host had made about the candidate, and if the comments had prompted civil rights groups to protest outside the MSNBC studios, do you think Chris Matthews, three months after the fact, would be photographed on the cover of The New York Times Magazine with an uproarious grin on his face?

For me, there were two key takeaways from the Times opus. The first was that Clinton-bashing -- and specifically, misogynistic Hillary-bashing -- pays off in the form of magazine cover stories. And second was that political journalism is a farce.
And this is really too bad. I enjoy political news, and I don't mind if people are biased (as I realize they are at FOX, CNN and MSNBC), as long as I am aware of the bias. What's dicey about Chris Matthews is that he tries to present himself as a fair reporter and/or commentator (what the hell IS he, anyway?), then unabashedly airs his personal prejudices. With someone like Bill O'Reilly or Michelle Malkin, you know exactly who they are and what they are about, right up front. They don't pretend to be objective, detached journalists.

It's hard to believe a sexist swine is acceptable in this day and age and is rewarded with his own TV show and attendant media fawning. Then again, the word MISOGYNY is something of a dirty word on TV anyway:
The press plays dumb about the misogyny, and the Times magazine article was a perfect example. (The political press hates the word misogyny and considers the idea to be cuckoo. Click here to watch Keith Olbermann jump down Elton John's throat for even daring to utter the word in the context of the Clinton campaign.)
I've been puzzled about this, and Boehlert offers his opinion:
And c'mon, what's more adorable than watching powerful men in their 60s publicly lust after women often half their age?

Please note this odd, yet crucial, point: Matthews' openly sexist streak extends only to Democratic and liberal women, and that's another reason the press plays dumb. Because media elites would never anoint Matthews the Hot Journalist if he went on and on about how Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) was too ambitious, or how Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was "witchy," or how the voice of Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) sounded like fingernails being run across a chalkboard, or how Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) had "cold eyes."

That would be considered offensive and out of bounds. But to suggest Clinton's a "witchy," "anti-male" Nurse Ratched? That's deemed by the Beltway elites to be shrewd, astute, and fearless.

See, misogyny pays. And according to the Times, Matthews has three Mercedes in his driveway to prove it.
Excuse me, think I gotta go barf!

Listening to: Squalls - Kalinka
via FoxyTunes


Octogalore said...

I love this post! (a wise woman predicted that...)

Definitely, Matthews' "openly sexist streak extends only to Democratic and liberal women." And also, I think, to older women, adding in a nice pinch (or dollop) of ageism to the mix.

And the fact that he expects points for complimenting women if they are young or if they are black ("see, I AM a liberal" -- but if she were a 50-year-old black woman, she like HRC would either be a target or invisible).

belledame222 said...

arrrghhhh. so tired of ALL these talking fuckheads.

mcSey said...

So telling a woman she's good looking or a "knockout" is misogyny?

Ok, duly noted.


Daisy said...

mcSey, during a serious news interview, you think it's professional to suddenly discuss the other news anchor's appearance?

Maybe when men start discussing each other's appearance during the news, too: "Oh wow, Keith Olbermann, you seriously need to exfoliate!"