Mark Leibovich has a long piece in this weekend’s New York Times profiling Chris Matthews, bloviator extraordinaire and Holy Cross grad. This last fact is especially relevant because I tend to have a slightly irrational affection for prominent Holy Cross grad. ((For those unaware, the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA is my alma mater.)) Chris Matthews is no exception. Despite the attacks on him from various liberal sources including Media Matters and despite the fact that a number of liberal thinkers I admire point to Chris Matthews as exemplifying what is worst and most destructive in today’s media, I still like the guy. Of course – I don’t quite buy the premise – let’s call it the Glenn Greenwald premise – the blames the media more than any other source for our dysfunctional politics. I’ll be writing more about that as time goes on.
I’m a big fan of Mr. Greenwald – and even as I agree with most of the individual points he makes, and with his overall view of the larger political dysfunction, I disagree with the central thesis – of his blog and apparently his new book. I plan on reading his book in the next few weeks and posting my thoughts.
But for the moment, let’s appreciate one of the more entertaining characters in cable news, Chris Matthews, with a few excerpts from the Times piece:
There is a level of solipsism about Matthews that is oddly endearing in its self-conscious extreme, even by the standards of television vanity…
Sometimes during commercial breaks, Matthews will boast to Olbermann of having restrained himself during the prior segment. “And I reward him with a grape,” Olbermann says…
“I remember we were out hitchhiking once,” O’Regan told me. Matthews started arguing about Nixon and Vietnam. “It was just like watching his show today. Chris would ask a question, then he would answer it himself and then the person was invited to comment on Chris’s answer to his own question…”
By contrast, Matthews has called Obama “bigger than Kennedy” and compared the success of his campaign to “the New Testament.” His reviews of Obama’s speeches have been comically effusive at times, as when he described “this thrill going up my leg” after an Obama victory speech. (“Steady,” Olbermann cautioned him on the air.)