Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Chris Matthews is Endearing

This is what I read during my lunch break today. Great article. I've always been a fan of Chris Matthews. One day he'll say something that makes my head explode with indignation, and then the next he'll say something that I totally agree with, (and I like this because I don't usually like things that challenge my assumptions). If you've ever seen his show, you probably already have a good sense of who he is, or so this article asserts. What you see is what you get with this guy. He's a loudmouth and sometimes he has to cram his foot in there. Like the time he saw Tipper Gore on-screen while he was anchoring MSNBC's coverage of the opening of the WWII Memorial and said, his admiration evident in his voice, "She's a good-looking woman." And then, immediately after, "I shouldn't have said that." Or those times he references, seemingly apropo of nothing, a scene from an old movie (like "Lawrence of Arabia" for example), never caring how long it takes to set up the scene, tie it to current events and finally make his obscure point. He doesn't seem to self-censor, and he clearly loves his job more than any political wonk on the beat. That's worthy of admiration. So to find out that he doesn't get much respect from his peers, is kind of surprising.

"Tim — as in Russert, the inquisitive jackhammer host of “Meet the Press” — is a particular obsession of Matthews’s. Matthews craves Russert’s approval like that of an older brother. He is often solicitous. On the morning of the Cleveland debate, Matthews was standing in the lobby of the Ritz when Russert walked through, straight from a workout, wearing a sweat-drenched Buffalo Bills sweatshirt, long shorts and black rubber-soled shoes with tube socks. “Here he is; here he is, the man,” Matthews said to Russert, who smiled and chatted for a few minutes before returning to his room. (An MSNBC spokesman, Jeremy Gaines, tried, after the fact, to declare Russert’s outfit “off the record.”)

Matthews has berated Russert to several people at NBC and has told friends and associates that Russert is like John F. Kennedy while he is more like Richard Nixon. Kennedy was the golden boy while Nixon was the scrapper for whom nothing came easily. It’s an imperfect comparison, certainly (Matthews is Irish Catholic, for starters, and Russert is not charismatic by any classic Kennedyesque definition), but it does offer a glimpse into how Matthews perceives himself, especially in relation to Russert. It’s also worth noting that Nixon was obsessed with Kennedy, and Kennedy could be dismissive and disparaging of Nixon."

And this:

"According to people at NBC, Matthews has not been shy in voicing his resentment of Olbermann. Nor, according to network sources, has Olbermann bothered to hide his low regard for Matthews, although when I spoke to him, Olbermann denied any personal animosity toward Matthews and told me that he appreciates his “John Madden-like enthusiasm for politics.”

The article goes on to say that with Matthews' contract is running out, some at NBC are thinking of letting him go and putting David Gregory in his place. This mystifies me. If MSNBC is in a hurry to promote pure unadulterated boring, then they definitely should replace Chris with David Gregory, the Wolf Blitzer of NBC News. But no one I know is looking for a better source for boring, so maybe that doesn't make much sense.

I don't know if Matthews is worth $5 million a year (which is how much he makes currently), but no one can say he doesn't work for it. Most weekday mornings he's up at 7am to give "his take" to viewers on "Morning Joe," MSNBC's morning talk-show, and later he does his evening Hardball shows, and then he also has his weekly "The Chris Matthews Show" which airs Sunday. The guy works. Gregory? Other than a couple run-ins with the White House press secretary, and a faux-pas or two on the unwatchable Today show, I can't remember a single interesting thing Gregory's said, or an interesting story he's reported. I kinda doubt he has. Good-looking and mediocre is preferable to unpredictable and entertaining, I guess.

Anyway, the article's great (and long! And in this case that's a good thing!), and you ought to give a bit of it a read.

And finally, click here for some "Pineapple Express" poster action. Good stuff.

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