This year, of all the news anchors, columnists, pundits, and reporters whose
work we've critiqued and corrected, one man stands alone as a clear successor
to the O'Reilly throne. We are pleased to announce broadcast journalist, former
newspaper bureau chief, former presidential speechwriter, and best-selling author
has earned the title of 2005's "Misinformer of the Year." At times,
it has even been difficult
to tell the difference between 2005's Misinformer of the Year and his predecessor.
For your reading pleasure, we've compiled some highlights of Matthews's most
egregious false and misleading claims, as well as his glowing and gushing praise
for President Bush.
Chris Loves George, Part 1: Bush sometimes "glimmers" with
"sunny nobility." On MSNBC's Hardball, during
a discussion with Washington Times editorial page editor Tony Blankley
of the effects on President Bush and his administration of the investigation
into the leak of the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame, Matthews said "[S]ometimes
it glimmers with this man, our president, that kind of sunny nobility."
Chris Loves George, Part 2: "Everybody sort of likes the president,
except for the real whack-jobs ..." Insulting the majority
of Americans who hold an unfavorable opinion of President Bush, Matthews
exclaimed on Hardball: "Everybody sort of likes the president,
except for the real whack-jobs, maybe on the left," adding, "I mean,
like him personally." [Hardball, 11/28/05]
Chris Loves George, Part 3: Matthews praised Bush speech as "brilliant"
even before it was delivered. Before Bush had even delivered his
November 30 speech
at the U.S. Naval Academy, Matthews used variations of the word "brilliant"
twice to describe it, while deriding Democratic critics of the Iraq war as
"carpers and complainers." [MSNBC live coverage, 11/30/05]
Chris Loves George, Part 4: Bush "belongs on Mount Rushmore."
Recounting his experience at a White House party, Matthews said that he "felt
sensitive" during his interactions with the president, adding: "You
get your picture taken with him. It's like Santa Claus, and he's always very
generous and friendly." He continued: "I felt like I was too towel-snappy
with him," explaining that Bush had noted his "red scarf" and
remarked that he looked "preppy." During the same show, Matthews
stated: "If [Bush's] gamble that he can create a democracy in the middle
of the Arab world" is successful, "he belongs on Mount Rushmore."
Matthews on the filibuster debate: Democrats are "just sort
of pouting and bitching." Matthews weighed in on the filibuster
debate in May, declaring: "I think the Democrats started this fight.
I think they did. ... You know, I think Democrats should win more elections.
That will solve their problem." Days later, in discussing the Senate
compromise agreement to avert the "nuclear option" to ban judicial
filibusters, Matthews repeatedly espoused
Republican talking points, claiming, among other things, that because
of the recent bipartisan agreement aimed at averting the "nuclear option,"
Democrats can stop "pouting and bitching ... [and] actually participate
in legislation now"; that Republicans might "get double-crossed
or screwed by the Democrats"; and that the Republican position that every
judicial nominee deserves an up-or-down vote "sounds great to me."
Matthews repeatedly smeared Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
On April 24, Matthews attacked
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) by referring to her as a "sort of
a Madame Defarge of the left." On May 30, Matthews questioned Clinton's
ability to lead, expressing surprise that retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, an
NBC military analyst, wasn't "chuckling a little bit" at the idea
of Clinton giving orders to the troops as commander in chief. On July 11,
Matthews said Sen. Clinton "looked more witchy" because she criticized
the Bush administration's homeland security spending priorities on July 8,
a day after the London bombings. On July 27, Matthews asked Sen. Rick Santorum
(R-PA) if he thought Sen. Clinton is a "big-government socialist."
The Chris Matthews Show, 4/24/05;
Matthews falsely claimed Democrats accused Alito of being "lenient
on the mob." During MSNBC's coverage of the nomination of Judge
Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court, Matthews repeatedly
misrepresented a document about Alito that was circulated by Democrats.
Waving the document around on camera -- but not quoting directly from it --
Matthews falsely claimed that the document accused Alito of being "lenient
on the mob" and made the baseless assertion that, by mentioning a case
involving organized crime, Democrats were "go[ing] after [Alito's Italian]
ethnicity." In fact, the document, available
here, made no mention of Alito's ethnicity and simply noted that he lost
a high-profile mob case -- not that he was "lenient" on anybody.
Matthews made false claim about Jan. 30 Iraqi election.
In praising the Iraqi election in January, Matthews falsely
claimed that no insurgent attacks had occurred at polling places on election
day. In fact, attacks on Iraqi polling places were widely reported during
the January 30 elections. [Hardball, 1/31/05]
Matthews distorted poll data to claim Catholics are increasingly
Republican. Matthews cherry-picked poll data to support his misleading
claim that Catholics have voted increasingly Republican since 1960. In fact,
exit poll data indicate that Catholics are actually a swing constituency:
In every presidential election since 1980, a majority or plurality of Catholics
have voted for the candidate who won the popular vote, including Bill Clinton
in 1992 and 1996 and Al Gore in 2000. [The Chris Matthews Show, 4/10/05]
Matthews's panels consistently skew to the right. Matthews
has hosted numerous MSNBC panels that contained far more conservative commentators
than progressives. In 2005, the trend was especially prevalent during MSNBC's
coverage; and both before
Bush's State of the Union address. While moderating discussion panels on Hardball,
Matthews has repeatedly
emphasized the liberal allegiances of progressive guests while failing
to note that other guests on the same panels were Republican.
Matthews distorted Murtha's Iraq proposal. Matthews repeatedly
suggested that Rep. John P. Murtha's (D-PA) call
for a redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq was inconsistent with his record
of being "known as the soldiers' friend" and "pro-Pentagon,
pro-soldier." The suggestion echoed news reports
that described Murtha as being "usually pro-military" -- implying
that his position on redeployment is not -- and a "pro-military"
Democrat, suggesting that the typical Democrat is not. [Hardball,
Matthews resurrected false claim that Saddam let Sunni fundamentalists
"come in for ... training." Matthews falsely claimed that,
prior to his overthrow by U.S.-led forces, Saddam Hussein allowed Islamic
terrorists to train for chemical warfare in northern Iraq. In fact, as the
Los Angeles Times noted on June 15, 2003, the training camp, operated
by Kurdish Islamic fundamentalist group Ansar al-Islam, "was in an autonomous
Kurdish region not ruled by Hussein." [Hardball, 11/9/05]
Matthews falsely insisted that the ongoing insurgency in Iraq was
unexpected. Ignoring evidence that the Bush administration received
repeated prewar warnings of the potential for a sustained insurgency in Iraq,
Matthews insisted that the continuing bloodshed had not been anticipated.
Matthews suggested that the "enduring" nature of the Iraqi insurgency
was a surprise and told viewers that he didn't "know many people who
expected it to still be going on this long." However, as reported
by USA Today, "Military and civilian intelligence agencies repeatedly
warned prior to the invasion that Iraqi insurgent forces were preparing to
fight and that their ranks would grow as other Iraqis came to resent the U.S.
occupation and organize guerrilla attacks." [The Chris Matthews Show,
Matthews falsely attacked Wilson over Niger trip's genesis.
Matthews falsely accused former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV of claiming
during his July 6 Meet the Press appearance and in his July 6 New
York Times op-ed that Vice President Dick Cheney had sent him on his
February 2002 trip to investigate whether Iraq had tried to acquire uranium
from Niger. In fact, Wilson never made such a claim in either his Times op-ed
or his appearance on Meet the Press. Wilson wrote in his Times
op-ed that CIA officials, not the vice president, asked him to go to Niger;
discussing his op-ed on Meet the Press, Wilson said that the "the
question [of Iraq seeking uranium from Niger] was asked of the CIA by the
office of the vice president." [The Chris Matthews Show, 7/24/05]
Matthews mischaracterized Democratic efforts to complete intel probe
as "disingenuous," "using crocodile tears." Matthews
baselessly assigned motives to both the Democrats' support for authorizing
the president to take the country to war in October 2002 and their recent
push to complete "phase two" of the Senate Intelligence Committee's
probe into the prewar intelligence on Iraq. Matthews characterized Democrats'
efforts to fully examine the Bush administration's handling of the intelligence
as "disingenuous," "using crocodile tears," and "trying
to climb down off the war." Matthews ignored Democrats' argument that
the judgments provided to Congress on the Iraqi threat prior to the vote were
later found to have been false or exaggerated. [Hardball, 11/1/05]