Friday, December 05, 2008

Chris Matthews Chickens Come Home to Roost

Sooner or later, some of the lewd, idiotic, misogynistic statements and actions had to catch up with him.

From The Hill - Matthews could be haunted by his own words.

A simple YouTube search shows the possible perils of a Chris Matthews Senate candidacy: foul language, inappropriate touching and an offer to duel.

Speculation is growing that the MSNBC talk show host may challenge Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) in 2010. The campaign is “in its infancy,” with a final decision expected early next year, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party told a liberal blog Thursday.

“He’s just talking to people. Conversations are going on, obviously,” Pennsylvania Democratic Party spokesman Abe Amoros told TPM Election Central. “We will know whether or not he’s a serious candidate sometime early next year.”

A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows Matthews within striking distance of Specter. The Republican is in the lead, but with a narrow 46-43 percent advantage over Matthews. Previous independent polls have shown a close race, though with a wider margin separating the two. The poll, conducted Dec. 2, has a 4.5 percent margin of error.

But a potential problem for Matthews is that his candidacy would be an opposition researcher’s dream. The loud-talking, combative journalist has an 11-year on-air career, another 13 years in the print media, has written six books and has a lengthy Internet Movie Database listing.

All that information could provide Specter and independent groups with ample ammunition to attack the “Hardball” host.

For example, typing his name in the video-sharing website YouTube brings up almost 10,000 results.

Some of the most popular include a 44-second “Chris Matthews Swearing Montage” filled with clips of Matthews swearing on-air.

Then there is the infamous incident with former Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga.)

At the 2004 Republican National Convention, Miller addressed the GOP delegates and appeared on “Hardball” afterward. Matthews asked him about his criticism of then-Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry (Mass.).

The heated exchanged ended with Miller saying: “I wished we lived in the day ... when you could challenge a person to a duel. That would be pretty good.”

This year, in what became a YouTube sensation, there was Matthews’s appearance on the “Ellen DeGeneres Show.” The popular daytime talk show host is known for her love of dancing, and most guests show off a few moves before sitting down.

When Matthews stopped by the show in March 2008, he spun DeGeneres around and ended up grabbing her breast.

“That was best dance ever,” DeGeneres said after they sat down.

“It was a little too physical,” Matthews responded.

But a video that may raise questions about Matthews's support within the Democratic Party is the almost five-minute clip of Matthews apologizing for what he said about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) this election cycle. On Jan. 9, Matthews said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show that Clinton got elected because her husband “messed around.”

“The truth, of course, is finer, smarter, larger than that,” Matthews said in his lengthy apology.

The Clinton campaign often expressed its fury with MSNBC during the presidential race, and critics claimed Matthews did not try to hide his support for then-candidate Barack Obama.

And besides the made-for-TV moments, Matthews has given several noteworthy print interviews, including his participation in an 8,100-word New York Times magazine profile.

The piece noted bloggers have accused Matthews of being sexist, pointing to a YouTube video of him ogling CNBC host Erin Burnett.

Matthews vigorously defended himself to the Times, saying: “I don’t think there’s any evidence of that at all. I’ve gone back and looked. Give me the evidence. No one can give it to me. I went through all my stuff. I can’t find it.”

Also in the profile Matthews pointed out he had 19 honorary degrees, which he expected to add to, and advised the author to call people like Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) for quotes.

Plus, there are plenty of other revealing quotes, such as when Matthews says: “I don’t think people look at me as the establishment, do you? Am I part of the winner’s circle in American life? I don’t think so.”

And it was the Times article that set off the Senate speculation. In it, Matthews said: “I’m a free man starting next June,” which is when his contract with MSNBC is said to be up.

But a lengthy media career doesn’t always translate into electoral disaster. Former “Saturday Night Live” star, radio talk show host and author Al Franken overcame several criticisms of his past life during his Minnesota Senate candidacy, including a racy piece Franken wrote in Playboy. Franken remains in a hotly contested recount with Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.).

On the other hand, a one-minute video can spell ruin for a candidate, particularly in an age in which the opposition sends cameras to record every move. In 2006, Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) called a volunteer for Democratic opponent Jim Webb’s campaign “macaca.”

The video became an Internet and cable-TV sensation, and Allen lost his reelection bid.

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