Hardball is Fair and Balanced

Fair and balanced in a FOX News kind of way.

This was Chris Matthews’ “panel” after the president’s peptalk today showing “America’s reaction”.

First and reasonably, two neutral commentators:
Reza Aslan - Pro-democracy Muslim scholar
**Norah O’Donnell ** - MSNBC journalist.
Then there’s the rest:
Tucker Carlson - obligatory right wing cheer leader.
Tony Perkins - President of the Family Research Council. Here’s the FRC’s top ten legislative priorities if you’re not sure who they are.
Jerry Sutton - Baptist Pastor, wrotea book lauding the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention
**Some woman ** - of the Eagle Forum (that’s right, Phyllis Schlafly’s Group). Just to give you the flavor Here’s the first photo on the Eagle Forum’s photo gallery.
Does this panel look a little HORRIBLY HORRIBLY skewed to anybody? Why are there three representatives of the *far far * Right (and what expertise do any of these people have in the Iraq war, by the way), another of the merely far right (Tucker). Balanced by - um - air? No wait, they were balanced by the wives of serviceman in the audience who talked about how proud they were of their husbands, how the Iraqis were grateful they were there, and compared Iraqis to 9 year old children (“we don’t let them drive yet because we’re the parents and they’re not ready.” I shit you not.)

In fact scratch what I said. Even Fox News would feel the need to have a democrat-ish straw man lurking somewhere. This was so skewed it’s just freakish. I hesitated to put this in the pit because I’m more confused and even curious than angry. I almost put this in General Questions.

This is a true, honest, W…T…F.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and believe me, the Bush White House is desperate. Of course they’re going to encourage their pet medium to make them look as good as possible.

I wish I could say I was surprised.

Surely you’re not accusing Chris Matthews of promoting a right wing agenda? We’re talking about the same Chris Matthews that worked for Jimmy Carter and Tip ONeill?

At least they’re consistent in their stupidity.

When I look I see a banner at the top for “The Supremacists: The Tyrrany of Judges and How to Stop It” and a picture of a grandstanding shitbird of a judge below.

Oh, wait, I’m going to guess they find Roy Moore to be all patriotic and stuff.


It sounds like the idea somebody had was to set it up as a “how will this play with the President’s core supporters” discussion, and perhaps Matthews didn’t explain it*; I’ve seen that sort of thing before. Not every panel needs to be stictly “balanced.” If you were discussing Howard Dean as DNC chair, or the 08 Dem nominee, it would be entirely sensible to not invite a Pub.

  • not that that would be an especially worthwhile conversation to hve.

You know, i’m not defending FOX News or anything, because they make no secret of their political leanings.

What i do want to say, though, is that i don’t think that the value of a news program need necessarily be judged by the “balance” of people being intereviewed. I believe, for example, that it’s perfectly possible to have a panel completely made up of right wing nutjobs, as long as the journalist hosting the show asks pointed questions, challenges their assumptions, and calls them on inconsistencies and hypocrisies in their positions. The same is equally true for a panel of leftists or liberals.

I think that too often people make the assumption that, as long as there’s one liberal on the show for every conservative (or vice versa), then everything is balanced. The fact is, it’s entirely possible for a show with a numerically balanced panel to still be incredibly unbalanced in its presentation. The constant call for “balance” often seems, to me at least, to get in the way of a proper, more in-depth critique of such news programs and of their journalistic practices.

So, did this descibe Matthews’ behavior toward this panel?
(Honest question, I did not see it.)

I didn’t see it either. I was merely making a general point about media criticism. I guess we’ll have to wait for the OP to let us know.

Here’s the deal. Hardball had set up a week of exploring Religion in America long before the President’s speech was announced. Last night was devoted to Bily Graham. Tonight’s show, with evangelical Christians, was already set-- they realistically couldn’t change it. When the prez decided to have his little speech, they amended the program to have a “town hall” meeting with the church group (and the token Moslem and Jew who were already booked) as a last minute adjustment.

It wasn’t intentionally set up that way.

There aren’t enough raised eyebrows on the board to express my feeling about this rationalization.

That’s exactly what happened. And anyway, how is going to an audience that is overwhelmingly conservative and getting their opinion on things any different than Matthew’s ‘College Tour’, where we get to hear the opinions of audiences that are overwhelmingly liberal? Wouldn’t being ‘fair and balanced’ mean spending some time at both?

Then Hardball has incompetent managers. What if President Bush had died today? What if the OJ white Bronco chase was occurring today? Would they have had the same pre-arranged folks discussing the implications? Shouldn’t it be expected that the lineup would change according to the changed subject?

Hmmmm. So they didn’t have enough time to change the subject of the show? So, what would be wrong with just saying so, and going ahead as planned? Or maybe they couldn’t find enough people who are willling to appear on TV? Yeah, that’s a tough one, all right, within a mile of MSNBC’s offices theres probably only about 100,000 people who would knife their mammas to be on TV.

Wait, I know! They couldn’t find anyone willing to be critical of The Leader! That must be it, the universal admiration and respect makes it just about impossible! Paul Begala, Jimmy Carville, Mark Shields…couldn’t find their phone numbers, the intern who had them quit suddenly.

Tweety Bird is a media whore. Period. When it becomes commercially advisable to do so, he will open every show reading straight from Buzzflash and Democratic Underground.

No. Until liberal “discussions” are the only option, nothing is fair. Nor balanced. Have you learned nothing from these boards?

Why should he? You haven’t.

There’s almost always someone from the left and right. There is seldom an authoritarian or libertarian.

I disagree, there were at least two authoritarians on that show.

What is your point? I watch Chris Matthews pretty much every day. He is not a Bush applogist.

It’s not just a matter of “changing the subject of the show” as 'luc put it. He’s on the road. They probably thought: what a great way to add even more to he subject we’re covering this week. Show the nation what the “religious right” thinks of Bush as evidenced by their reaction to his speech. Besides, they had their own talking heads tied in for analysis, too.

The Hardball gang is I believe pretty much up the middle. I have a lot of respect of Chris Matthews and you need to look at the body of the work and not isolated episodes. If they only interacted with conservatives as an everyday matter or asked only softball questions, you’d have something. But they seem to be able to challenge all points of view. The regular panel as a whole leans a bit to the right but unlike Scarborough for example, they are able to be critical of anyone and everyone.

What “regular panel”? Hardball has a whole slew of “regulars”, not one set that appears together.