Against the backdrop of the 10th anniversary soiree for MSNBC's Hardball, Chris Matthews offered up his own mini-Peter Finch moment, railing at the Bush administration in remarks termed "political and pointed." After declaiming that he intended to "make some news," Matthews offered the assembled well-wishers barbed snark ("God help us if we had Cheney during the Cuban missile crisis. We'd all be under a parking lot."), fiery non-sequiturs ("Spiro Agnew was not an American hero."), and one accusatory allusion against the administration, stating, "They have finally been caught in their criminality."
Naturally, everyone was left wondering exactly what "criminality" "they" had "finally" gotten "caught," uhm..."in." This morning, we cannot really say for sure. As The Examiner reported last night, "he did not specify the exact criminal behavior to which he referred." Matthews' complaint seems to have stemmed from an instance in which Vice President Dick Cheney's office protested the content of "Hardball" and "attempted to influence its editorial content." Clearly, it is an instance we'd love to know more about, but terming the practice of merely complaining about or attempting to exert influence on media coverage as "criminality" is a bit of a tough sell.
It's also a bit commonplace. Matthews attempted to draw a distinction between the current administration and the Clinton White House, telling the crowd that the Clintonites never attempted to "put pressure on his bosses to silence him." However, we'd guess that Atlantic Monthly's Josh Green might have a different story to tell.
"They will not silence me!" vowed Matthews, just a short time before his bosses at NBC "refused requests to release video of the event."
Matthews says Bush administration has "finally been caught in their criminality" [The Washington Examiner]