Chris Matthews talks shop

TV host plugging 'Life's A Campaign' book

I AM NOT a media critic!,” TV commentator Chris Matthews said when I asked if he had any thoughts on the Bill O’Reilly-Keith Olbermann “feud,” which rages almost nightly on the Fox and MSNBC networks. Chris added: “You can never win criticizing someone in your own business.” Although Chris works for MSNBC, he has high praise in person and in his new book for the Fox tycoon Roger Ailes who did so much for MSNBC before he came to the Rupert Murdoch empire. In fact, when we discussed ABC’s late genius, Roone Arledge, Chris said that Roger Ailes is the only person in television who comes up to Roone, creatively. … Matthews spoke to me about his latest book “Life’s A Campaign.” He’s a busy, in demand, kind of guy: Our meeting followed a successful moment on “The View” and he has another appointment pressing. He was teaching me something very valuable — what he calls “the art of seduction” — when his wife, Kathleen, joined us. And it worked; the seducer keeps quiet, gazes unblinkingly into your eyes and persists in this listening pose. “I remember that look,” said Kathleen, who has been married to Chris for 27 years. They have three all-but-grown children. One wants to be an actor, one a film director and their daughter is a freshman at Penn. … “I spent a third of a century studying politicians and working with some of them and I was always trying to learn something from these guys. … I learned that in one way they are all alike. The best of them have three things in common. (1) They are wonderful listeners (2) They are true optimists – think of FDR, JFK, Ronald Reagan (3) They relish the competition.” I told Chris that people who aren’t hot into politics might not be interested from the title. He nodded, “Yes, I know. But I subtitled it ‘What Politics Has Taught Me About Friendship, Rivalry, Reputation and Success.'” I had already read the book and found it a general primer for how to succeed in life by studying those around you. … I get the idea that he’s not in business to endorse candidates, he’s there to question them. He treated me to this following theory: Hillary may have a hard time because Matthews believes the hidden and open antipathy to a woman candidate reaches deep in this country. He cited the fact that African-American men were given the vote in 1870, but women didn’t get the vote until 1920. Then he zinged off a quip: “The Republicans want a leader! The Democrats always want a meeting.”