Overtly biased. Unable to let a guest answer a question without interruption. Addicted to the sound of his own voice. Ahh, Chris Matthews in a nutshell — exhibit “A” in the downfall of American journalism.
Not much surprises me anymore when it comes to the mainstream press and obvious bias. At most, I’m surprised that these people have no problem whatsoever overtly abandoning their objectivity and, in turn, their credibility.
Take, for example, the recent interview by MSNBC’s Matthews of former Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer. Matthews actually came out and asked Fleischer about the economy and country left “in our hands,” as though he is already trying to make good on his election night promise to do anything he could to ensure that President Obama succeeds.
The transcript of the interview is extremely telling. For crying out loud, Matthews actually asks Fleischer about the “financial crisis which WE inherited.” Now, if he were to say the “financial crisis we are in” or something along those lines, perhaps it could be construed as though he were taking about the American people as a whole, but he wasn’t. He mentioned “inherited” and, in terms of politics, only one group really “inherited” anything — the Obama administration.
I guess Matthews associates himself with the administration now. How wonderfully objective.
Fleischer, on the other hand, was outstanding. He called Matthews out not only on his annoying habit of interrupting (did you hear the people in the studio snickering?). He got in a little jab about Matthews’ abandonment of journalistic standards. And he even made a valid point that, when we get attacked again, Matthews would likely contribute to those who blame it on George W. Bush while refusing to look at Bush’s predecessor when it comes to the attitude leading up to September 11, 2001.
This was my concern throughout the election, that the very same mainstream press who were so in the tank for Barack Obama would not cover him fairly should he win. And we’ve seen just that so far, with the way the Republicans were painted as obstructionists–yet there were almost no stories about the Democrats’ obstructionism, especially on judicial nominees, under Bush–and most recently with the media attention that a simple four-day market rally received.
I studied journalism in college. I still remember the first time I walked down the second floor hallway of Tichenor Hall at Auburn, looking at the main wall of the offices, covered in the text of the First Amendment. It just felt right. We’ve lost so many of those ideals even only in the past ten years or so, with 2008 being, for me, the year that American journalism died.
Not only are we fighting an uphill battle when it comes to fair coverage of the daily movements of the Obama administration, but we’ll be fighting that uphill battle in perpetuity, at least until the media has embarrassed itself to the point which it must return to its roots in order to regain trust and once again become relevant.
Funny, I thought that the conduct of Chris Matthews alone during this past election, between the tingle going up his [third] leg and his constant commenting as to the “romanticism” of Barack Obama’s rhetoric and more, would have provided that embarrassment. I guess not.
In the meantime, the Fleischer interview is worth a look in its entirety, even if for no other reason than to shake your head at the downfall of American journalism.
Rick Saunders, upon seeing this, suggested that we sell tickets to a Robert Gibbs – Ari Fleischer smackdown. What a great idea! We could sell out Madison Square Garden. We could serve popcorn and booze. Helen Thomas could parade around in a bikini between rounds with the Round Number card. Well, wait a moment … maybe that’s not such a good idea. In the meantime, while we work out the details, check back today for a great piece by Mr. Saunders.