If NBC were the NFL, we’d describe this statement from Chris Matthews as the moment when a veteran but snakebit head coach whose team is losing its season gets the dreaded “vote of confidence” from the team’s owner. In other words, we’ll keep you on for the rest of the year, but you better win the rest of your games this season if you expect to be back next year:
On today’s edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Matthews told Priebus that Republican attacks on President Obama’s welfare stance, as well as Mitt Romney’s remark about his birth certificate, were evidence that the Republican party was playing “that little ethnic card… the race card,” and called it an embarrassment to the party.
Matthews criticism, leveled with a remarkable emotional intensity, visibly rankled the show’s co-hosts, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. RNC spokesman Sean Spicer called it “outlandish.” Priebus called it “garbage,” and later charged Matthews with trying to be “the biggest jerk in the room.” In an interview with Matthews Monday evening, Newt Gingrich charged Matthews with racism.
But Matthews told POLITICO that has received an outpouring of support — from his bosses, who he says “agree with substance of what I said,” and from fans in places as disparate as Mozambique and Jamaica.
Something tells me that the Nielsens for MSNBC in Mozambique are even worse than they are in America. But setting that aside, perhaps Matthews really does have a vote of confidence from his employers. I think we can safely conclude that Matthews is, for once, being honest when he says that his bosses “agree with [the] substance” of his racist statements, considering its dishonest edits earlier this year to frame George Zimmerman as a racist, the recent on-air utterance of the N-word by a 9/11 truther who co-hosts one of their shows, and the statement that MSNBC president Phil Griffin gave to NPR a year ago:
I’m a big fan of the Reverend Sharpton. I’ve known him quite a bit. he’s smart. He’s entertaining. He’s experienced. He’s thoughtful. He’s provocative, all the things I think that MSNBC is.
He sure is. And so is Chris.
Update: In his column this week for the L.A. Times, Jonah Goldberg quips, “Huzzah, America, our centuries-old struggle with racism and bigotry may be coming to an end:”
Just to recap, here’s what Romney said of himself and his wife: “No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised.”
As with most things Romney says, it’s hard to appreciate the full breadth and depth of the blandness of his delivery from just reading the words on the page.
Yet this is “the basest and most despicable bigotry we might be able to imagine.” Clearly, if that’s the worst we can come up with, the state of racial tolerance in America has never been better.
Of course. Which is why Chris and the rest of the liberal Bletchley Park that his network have transformed itself into have to work ever harder to detect all those racial dog whistles only their ears can receive. Which brings us to James Taranto’s observation yesterday: “The thing we adore about these dog-whistle kerfuffles is that the people who react to the whistle always assume it’s intended for somebody else. The whole point of the metaphor is that if you can hear the whistle, you’re the dog.”