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Chris Matthews Lets Ari Fleischer Get Away with Murder

04/13/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

You have to hand one thing to Ari Fleischer. On Wednesday night, he nailed it when he told Chris Matthews, "Chris, do you ever not interrupt your guests, or is that all you'd like to do?"

The rest of what Fleischer said was total Bush-hack nonsense, but Matthews was so busy blustering or so ignorant that he missed the whole thing. They call the Daily Show fake news, but this week Jon Stewart had the hard news, not Hardball.

Two examples: one that Matthews caught 24 hours later and one of which he is blissfully ignorant.

Ari's whole deal was that "George Bush kept us safe." Matthews spent a lot of time blaming the Bush administration for falsely linking Sadaam to 9/11. At the end of the interview, Fleischer said, "after September 11, having been hit once, how could we take a chance that Saddam might not strike again?

"Again?" I jumped out of my chair, but Matthews was so busy talking that he missed it. This was the mother of all Freudian slips.

The next night Matthews devoted a whole segment to it, reciting Fleischer's lame explanation that, "he didn't mean that Saddam Hussein attacked us on 9/11 but instead that Saddam had attacked other countries before and could attack us." Matthews claimed that Fleischer's miscue was "just as I was thanking him for coming on," which was not true. Matthews just was not listening. So a day late, Matthews gummed it to death.

But what really disturbed me, and what was typical Matthews, involved Fleischer's distinction between the intelligence about WMDs being wrong or being intentionally wrong.

This started in typical Matthews style. Fleischer admitted that the WMD intelligence was wrong. Matthews twisted this and said that Fleischer had admitted being dishonest:

MATTHEWS: . . . Do you believe that the administration made an honest case in taking us to war with Iraq? An honest case.

FLEISCHER: Yes. Yes.

MATTHEWS: Even though you corrected the record afterwards and said that they made a dishonest argument that we faced a nuclear threat.

FLEISCHER: Chris, how disingenuous are you? You can just roll back the tape...

MATTHEWS: I'm just quoting you!

FLEISCHER: ... in this interview. Chris, I said we were wrong. I didn't say we were dishonest. Dishonest is your word, Chris Matthews. We were wrong.

After being justly criticized by Fleischer for twisting Ari's words, Matthews then let Fleischer filibuster about how many people were wrong about WMDs.

I guess Matthews has been so busy hyping himself that he has not read about how Cheney and his posse set up a rump intelligence operation, crediting only reports that pointed toward WMDs and castigating anyone, especially at the CIA, who raised a doubt. Has he forgotten about Joe Wilson's report? (Not the brouhaha after, the report itself.) How about the marginalizing within the administration of anyone who disagreed? Not listening to the U.N. inspectors?

I'm sure commenters can add more.

Matthew's job is to be up on these things and point out the B.S. This is his full time job. Instead, he either doesn't know the facts or he is too busy yammering to notice what anyone else says.