Chris Matthews issued a strong, and incensed, reaction to a YouTube clip of George W. Bush's lame attempt at musical theatre from this weekend's Gridiron Dinner. The sight of reporters standing and laughing at Bush's hokum caused Matthews to ascend his righteous soapbox and bellow his disapproval:
MATTHEWS: That was quite a hoot. All that joking by the President about Brownie, the guy in charge of the New Orleans disaster and, of course, Scooter Libby, the guy involved in the CIA cover-up. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's reporters - the best of them - laughing at events and political acts that warrant anything - I mean, anything - but laughter.
There is nothing, nothing funny about Bush's reference to Brownie, the disastrous appointment followed by the catastrophic handling of the Katrina horror in New Orleans. Nothing funny about a war fought for bad intelligence. And a top aide, Scooter Libby, who committed perjury and obstruction of justice to cover it up. And nothing funny about a President who commuted that sentence to keep the cover-up protected. Otherwise I'm sure it was an enjoyable get-together between journalists and the people they're charged with covering.
Of course, it's worth noting that Matthews himself is no stranger to these sorts of get-togethers. Take this year's Washington Press Club Foundation's Congressional Dinner, which WaPo's Reliable Sourceresses Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts describe as "kickoff of Beltway prom season -- the chummy, edgy, giddy, sometimes surreal banquets that bring the D.C. press corps and the politicians they cover together to break bread and crack wise." If you recall, the slated emcee of that affair - Tony Snow - was replaced at the last minute by an enthusiastic Chris Matthews. Did Matthews take the time to decry the cozy relationship between the media and the power-brokers? Not really. In fact, someone on the scene reported to Wonkette that Matthews spent the majority of the time trying to get the crowd to listen to him:
I was one of the reporters at the Washington Press dinner last night mceed [sic] by Chris Matthews and he had to admonish the crowd several times for talking over him and the previous speaker -- to no avail, the crowd just kept on talking right over Matthews.
But then once he was done and the more "important" people were up, not just Pelosi and co. but the journalism honorees, etc. the crowd was quiet. I think people just don't like Chris Matthews.
So, was Matthews' outburst fueled by sincere indignance or mere professional jealousy? We look forward to this year's White House Correspondents' Dinner, where Matthews will surely stand outside and protest the behavior of "the best" reporters.