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Andy Ostroy Headshot

Chris Matthews' Smackdown of Reince Priebus Should Be Taught in Journalism School

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A week after blogging about how Soledad O'Brien's amazing interview with John Sununu deserves to be taught in journalism school I find myself advocating yet again for the same thing, this time for MSNBC's Chris Matthews for his super-sweet smackdown of Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.

The action took place on Monday's edition of "Morning Joe." As the wussified hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough looked on embarrassingly and apologetically, Matthews ripped into Priebus over the GOP's reprehensible attacks on President Obama's citizenship and welfare stance, saying the Republican party was playing "that little ethnic card... the race card." The "Hardball" host was clearly emotional, frustrated and angry.

Matthews heatedly referred to the recent Mitt Romney ad about welfare work requirements and Romney's recent "birth certificate" joke he shamelessly cracked in Michigan last week which was meant to appeal to the party's lowest common denominator. "That cheap shot ... was awful...It is an embarrassment to your party to play that card ... you are playing that ethnic card there," he chided a smirking Priebus. "You can sit there and giggle about it, but the fact is your party is playing that card."

"It was a moment of levity," Priebus disingenuously replied in defense of Romney. "What was the joke?" Matthews demanded. "What is the joke in the fact that he (Romney) has a birth certificate? I don't get it...It just seems funny that the first joke he ever told in his life was about Obama's birth certificate," he quipped to supportive laughter from the live audience.

Bravo to Matthews. His cross-examination of an obnoxious, defiant Priebus was unrelenting. Like O'Brien last week, he had the balls to challenge the lies and rebuke the liar. Unfortunately though, he didn't get any support from Brzezinski or Scarborough who, rather than applaud their colleague for doing his job in seeking the truth, seemed horrified at his behavior...more worried that Priebus might never want to bring his lying, smarmy self back on the show again. They scoffed at Matthews' allegations and appeared annoyed and defensive of Priebus. When the segment was over they seemed utterly shocked, as if something strange and unacceptable had just happened.

When did television news people become so horribly neutered...so afraid to demand honesty and truth from their guests? Instead, they roll over like sheep, allowing these propagandists free, unchallenged airtime to spew their dishonest, divisive rhetoric. When someone finally steps up and holds them accountable it is they who are viewed as being out of line. With the exception of a couple of righteously indignant journos like Matthews and O'Brien, the American news media, given all that's at stake in this most critical election, appears utterly useless right now.

I'm holding out hope that Aaron Sorkin's fictional anchorman Will McAvoy on HBO's "The Newsroom" will soon have some serious influence on his real-life colleagues...if he hasn't already.

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