On January 20th, 2006, a website called Open Letter to Chris Matthews was launched by progressive bloggers. The purpose of the site was to demand an apology of Matthews for equating Michael Moore to Osama bin Laden. Demonstrating the power of bloggers to demand accuracy and accountability from reporters, Matthews acknowledged the pressure and offered a series of slippery references to his disgusting statement, not quite apologizing, but trying in vain to backslide.
Open Letter to Chris Matthews has since received an astonishing 313,000 visits. The blog has chronicled a long string of repugnant remarks by a 'journalist' who maintains a veneer of credibility and impartiality. And today, the notion that Matthews is a neutral reporter has just received a fatal blow. On the heels of Matthews' defense of Joe McCarthy, and a day before a damaging new blog-generated report is due to be released on Matthews' Republican-tilted speaking engagements, Media Matters has just released a report entitled "Hardball for the left, softball for the right: Conservatives dominate on Hardball."
An excerpt from the report: "In February 2006, Media Matters released "If It's Sunday, It's Conservative," a study of guest appearances on the Sunday-morning talk shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC. The methodology used in the study identified each guest's general partisan or ideological orientation, rather than the substance of their comments on a particular show. Every guest on the three Sunday shows was coded as Democrat, Republican, conservative, progressive, or neutral (nonpartisan, centrist, or having no political orientation).
Employing the same methodology, Media Matters tallied all guests who appeared on Hardball during the first two months of 2006 and coded them based on party affiliation and ideology. (A list of the guests is here.) The data reflected in these charts show that the number of Republican/conservative guests has been significantly higher than the number of Democratic/progressive guests. In January, Republicans/conservatives led Democrats/progressives 55 to 38 -- a difference of 59 percent to 41 percent. By February, that advantage had increased: Republican/conservatives outnumbered Democrats/progressives 55 to 34, or 62 percent to 38 percent."
The case against Chris Matthews is simple: he is not neutral. He channels a right-leaning perspective. This wouldn't be an issue if he and his employers acknowledged it, but a viewer who doesn't have the time or resources to analyze Hardball's content may well assimilate the pro-GOP spin unwittingly. As I've written recently, it's the seemingly neutral reporters who do the most insidious damage to our public discourse, augmenting and magnifying the filth spewed by legions of liberal-haters like Limbaugh and Hannity.
When Tim Russert and Chris Matthews and their traditional media ilk peddle pro-GOP and anti-Dem storylines, they are doing so to an unsuspecting audience.
The harm done cannot be overstated.