Chris Matthews Doesn’t Know When to Shut Up

Want to see what’s wrong with the conventional-wisdom memo circulating around CNN about the need to inject more opinion and passion into cable news? Watch Chris Matthews’ interview with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.

Even if you agree with the MSNBC host’s points, his sputtering line of attack — and repeated interruptions — would leave any casual viewer feeling like the guest had been spit on by his host.

Moreover, the exchange was so uncomfortable the “Morning Joe” team turned it into a big joke, losing any content or context in the legitimate questions Matthews raised. And Tom Brokaw looked understandably mortified.

Like a lot of cable hosts, Matthews is in love with the sound of his own voice, and the guests are really there less for their responses or opinions than to give him someone to talk to. Most days you sort of wonder why he bothers with them at all.

Yet the very nature of the exchange ensured the clip would wind up posted all over the place, which counts as a “win” in the current twisted mind-set of cable punditry.

Are you watching and listening, CNN? Because if you want to broadcast in a “more compelling and engaging way,” as Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes has suggested, this is an example of both. In the broad strokes, this sort of verbal slapfest makes for good TV.

It’s just that from a journalistic standpoint, Priebus was right. Matthews didn’t care about answers. For him, like so many of his brethren, it’s all about the monologue.

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  1. Citizenright says:

    Chris Matthews made an ass out of himself. As the article said, even Tom Brokaw looked “mortified.”
    Now, we understand that you liberals are terrified as you now see that Obama is going to lose in a landslide, but how about supporting some civility and some journalistic ethics? It won’t change the coming results, but it might be a way to restore some civility to the public debate.

  2. Garyjr73 says:

    I also disagree. I’m so tired of the journalists not questioning outright falsehoods/claims. If Priebus wants to be greeted with cheers when he shares insincere platitudes and out-right lies, he can go on FOX.

  3. Davelyrics says:

    Completely disagree. Chris Matthews is a national treasure, and he was spot-on with Priebus. Tom Brokaw was being the false-equivalence peddler, and Matthews was doing what a good journalist should do: holding a public figure to account, not just giving him free PR. Anyone trying to get away with dog-whistle racial politics in this day and age needs to be treated with the dogged pursuit that Matthews courageously showed. –David Goldsmith

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