Chris Matthews Was All About Institutional Memory, Will Be Sorely Missed

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It comes with a heavy heart that news of Chris Mathews retiring from Hardball was made known this evening. His insight and desire to get to the heart of the story ranks among the top of any such personality on television. But what made him essential in this troubling time in our politics is the decades of institutional memory that he demonstrated night after night.

To post about this news tonight requires one example as to show who he is, and what we all have lost. Even for those too young to grasp how important any of this matters.

This story comes from 2012 and is a perfect ending for Matthews.

Earlier today I was musing about the excitement generated by the Republican Primary in Michigan.  I mentioned Teddy White, who seems to always be on my mind on Elections Day, and hoped somewhere tonight he was able to look down and watch the action.

With that in mind as I watched MSNBC’s coverage (flipping along the various news channel options for this and that interview, etc.) I landed on Chris Matthews talking with longtime newsman and political watcher Tom Brokaw.  As they discussed the political landscape of Michigan, and the various components of the contentious nominating process this year, it was Matthews who invoked the name of White, and how much he would have enjoyed this night.  Matthews added that it was White who talked about “the primitives” in the GOP during the 1964 Goldwater election.

I was sitting in the living room, and just smiled.

Yeah, I know there is a huge segment of the younger viewers that have no idea who Matthews was referring to, and no idea what the “Making of the President” series is all about.

But for the segment of the audience who recalls the curious and informative man who loved politics, and had forgotten more than anyone around him ever knew about elections and campaigns–it was a great moment.

Thanks, Chris!

Get Well, Chris Matthews

We love Chris Matthews at Caffeinated Politics. So this news today is disconcerting.

If you’re a consistent viewer of MSNBC’s Hardball With Chris Matthews, you’ve probably been wondering where the host has been in recent days. Steve Kornacki, a regular Matthews fill-in, reported on Matthews’ status: He is presently recovering from prostate cancer surgery. It is currently not clear when Matthews will return.

CP sends the best to the guy we love to watch and learn from.

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Do Cable News Channels Know Of A Place Called Venezuela?

After the all-news cable channels have regurgitated the latest crazy tweet from Donald Trump for the 25th time, or pondered the future of Nancy Pelosi for the umpteenth time, might it be possible to give any air time to–pick a place around the world?

But for this post let us select Venezuela.

In brief, here is the tragic story of the lives of those subjected to the actions of President Nicolás Maduro’s government.

Hundreds of Venezuelans, some of whom walked 900 miles to escape economic disaster back home, saw their journeys abruptly halted this weekend on a frigid, remote border with Ecuador.

Like other Latin American countries hosting thousands of fleeing Venezuelans, Ecuador suddenly erected a new entry barrier on Saturday requiring in this case passports rather than the national I.D. cards they accepted before.

The standoff is part a growing backlash from some of the countries—among them Ecuador, Peru and Brazil—that have received 2.3 million exiled Venezuelan since 2014. The humanitarian exodus from Venezuela, hobbled by 1 million percent inflation this year, rolling blackouts and collapsing public services, has accelerated in recent months with increasingly poor people fleeing, say government officials in Colombia and elsewhere.

The plight of refugees came as Maduro’s government began on Monday rolling out a plan to raise the minimum wage by 6,000%, hike taxes and institute a currency devaluation—measures Venezuelans said would paralyze the economy and prompt more people to flee.

Cable news viewers would only come to know of such reports from the BBC, NPR, or national newspapers like The New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal.  It is truly amazing, and sad, that so much air-time is given to repeating over and over with different ‘talking heads’ the same headline.  Meanwhile there are places like Gaza, Turkey and a Greek island of Tilos which are making news which our nation needs to be aware of—

Meanwhile, did you know that Trump is not a good speller……..

The Public Split Between MSNBC And Governor Chris Christie

This is one of those side-stories that makes the Governor Chris Christie mess so compelling to follow.  Who does not enjoy watching a real political scandal play out in public?  When the emails were released to the public showing the Christie administration was neck deep in the mire there was no denying this story had legs.  In the past week this story became an onion with layers of intrigue standing on long legs.   There is no way any news operation can do other than follow the leads that present themselves.  The Christie administration can not be upset that journalists are doing their job when it comes to the biggest scandal to have hit in quite some time.

It was a match made in moderately minded Northeast Corridor heaven.

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey needed a TV network that would burnish his bipartisan bona fides and showcase his gleefully contrarian style. MSNBC craved a Republican who cut against the party grain and lit up the screen with his everyman-ish, Springsteen-loving spontaneity.

An on-air romance blossomed, forged over chummy strolls along the Jersey Shore and heart-to-hearts in the studio about everything from overeating to education, embodying the aisle-crossing aspirations of this partisan era.

Now, the improbable relationship between a governor with his eyes on the White House and a network determined to break into the top tier, up to now so beneficial to both, has curdled in a spectacularly public fashion.

MSNBC Host Martin Bashir (Correctly) Resigns

Caffeinated Politics is happy with this news, as this blog called for his removal.  The only quibble I have is that I thought he should have been fired as opposed to resigning.  There are standards that should never be allowed to diminish on the airwaves.

Following a firestorm over his recent comments about Sarah Palin, the MSNBC host Martin Bashir resigned on Wednesday, citing what he called his “ill-judged comments.”       

Martin Bashir on Wednesday resigned as a host on MSNBC.                           

Mr. Bashir had been listed as being on vacation while the network faced heated criticism for not taking disciplinary action against him.       

The decision was prompted by a commentary Mr. Bashir directed last month against Ms. Palin, the former Republican vice-presidential nominee, in which he criticized her for statements comparing American debt to slavery, saying she deserved the same kind of humiliating and degrading treatment that some slaves faced.       

Mr. Bashir later issued an apology on the air for the commentary. He then left for what was called a vacation.

MSNBC Host Martin Bashir Should Be Fired Over Sarah Palin Remark

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There are times when anyone who works behind a live microphone will say something that should not have been uttered.  Many a broadcaster has made a slip, a mistake, a blunder.  I certainly did when working at WDOR radio.  The vast majority of such on-air moments from broadcasters are obviously accidental, and can be forgotten about.

But then there are some incidents that are so far removed from any sense of professional standard that something more needs to be done than simply moving on to another broadcasting day.

MSNBC host Martin Bashir crossed the line by a mile when on Friday he suggested former Alaska governor Sarah Palin deserved to have someone “sh*t” in her mouth.

There must be no leniency, excuses or any type of rationale allowed for this outlandish and vile statement from someone who has a national audience.  Let it be on the record I would demand Bashir’s firing if he had no more than a small market radio audience when making such a statement.

In broadcasting there must be standards, and when those standards are stomped on there must be consequences.  To allow Bashir to continue being on-air at MSNBC undermines those who do work at being professional broadcasters at the network.   Equally important not firing him sends a message that the audience is not worthy of respect.

I get the fact that serious people do not like Sarah Palin.  But there is never a need to resort to the inexcusable level of discourse that Bashir exhibited with his remark.  Being truly vulgar and offensive might work in Bashir’s household but he will not be invited back into this home via the airwaves.

Cutting To The Core Of What Is Wrong With Politics Today

Short and to the point.

Congressmen Gary Ackerman (D-New York) spoke candidly with Bloomberg Businessweek editor Josh Tyrangiel about what being a member of a highly partisan Congress is really like.

BBW: Congressman Ackerman, you’ve been here 30 years. Can you define comity as it existed when you arrived versus how it exists now?

ACKERMAN: Your premise is that comity exists now. It may not be entirely accurate. It used to be you had real friends on the other side of the aisle. It’s not like that anymore. Society has changed. The public is to blame as well. I think the people have gotten dumber. I don’t know that I would’ve said that out loud pre-my announcement that I was going to be leaving. [Laughter] But I think that’s true. I mean everything has changed. The media has changed. We now give broadcast licenses to philosophies instead of people. People get confused and think there is no difference between news and entertainment. People who project themselves as journalists on television don’t know the first thing about journalism. They are just there stirring up a hockey game.

Ackerman is right.

Case in point.

As the turmoil in Egypt was brewing this past week both FAUX News and MSNBC kept to their usual regurgitation of political news during prime time, instead of using their resources to report and educate the public about an international event.  It was more important to each of these political channels to throw red meat out, rather than to inform on the heavy news of the day.

But having said that, let me not confuse my readers into thinking that the public would sit down and watch such reporting with the level of interest that is needed even if it had been available.

It is a real statement about our  ‘all news’ channels in American when we need to turn to the BBC for coverage of international events.  (I do love the BBC, and think it the best for news delivery in the world.)

Chris Matthews Warms My Heart With Teddy White Reference

It does not take much to make me smile.  It never has.  The best smiles are the ones that come when least expected.

Earlier today I was musing about the excitement generated by the Republican Primary in Michigan.  I mentioned Teddy White, who seems to always be on my mind on Elections Day, and hoped somewhere tonight he was able to look down and watch the action.

With that in mind as I watched MSNBC’s coverage (flipping along the various news channel options for this and that interview, etc.) I landed on Chris Matthews talking with longtime newsman and political watcher Tom Brokaw.  As they discussed the political landscape of Michigan, and the various components of the contentious nominating process this year, it was Matthews who invoked the name of White, and how much he would have enjoyed this night.  Matthews added that it was White who talked about “the primitives” in the GOP during the 1964 Goldwater election.

I was sitting in the living room, and just smiled.

Yeah, I know there is a huge segment of the younger viewers that have no idea who Matthews was referring to, and no idea what the “Making of the President” series is all about.

But for the segment of the audience who recalls the curious and informative man who loved politics, and had forgotten more than anyone around him ever knew about elections and campaigns–it was a great moment.

Thanks Chris!!