MSNBC President Phil Griffin has nothing but nice things to say about the network's outspoken firebrand Chris Matthews.
"He's as good as he's ever been," Griffin said of the confrontational host. "He's at a place in his life where he's really comfortable in his own skin. He's a statesman. He has so much knowledge and I think he understands it better. He's always been great, but I really think he's been at the peak of his game."
"He is sort of the model figure for who we are," he adds. "He doesn't stick out loving politics and being passionate about politics. It comes across in everything we do ... And that's Chris."
And "passionate" he is. In fact, there were several moments this year when, instead of commenting on the news, Matthews became the news for his confrontational style and controversial statements.
So, without any further introduction, here are six of the most entertaining Matthews moments from 2012:
6. Matthews Goes Full-Bore on RNC Chairman Reince Priebus
During a sit-down on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Matthews attacked Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus for the GOP's supposed attempts to paint the president as an “other”:
“I think Obama’s policies,” Priebus said, “have created a sense that for whatever reason, he looks for guidance — as far as health care is concerned, as far as spending is concerned, as far as the stimulus packages are concerned — he’s looking to Europe for guidance. That’s the problem.”
“Where do you get this from? This is insane.” Matthews interjected. “You mean the fact that every president we’ve had has tried to offset the economic cycle with stimulus going the other direction is somehow European?
“Look at the spending, he said he’d get the debt under control. Where are we at?”
“What’s this got to do with Europe and this foreignization of [Obama]?” Matthews said. “You’re playing that card again. What’s this European thing of yours?”
5. Matthews Wants Conservative Group to Show Him the Money
During a segment on Michigan’s newly passed right-to-work legislation, Matthews berated a spokesman for Americans for Prosperity, an anti-tax and government spending organization, for the group’s connection to the conservative billionaire Koch brothers.
“You work for the Koch brothers, they don’t like unions, why are you working for them?” Matthews said.
“I work for Americans for Prosperity,” Scott Hagerstrom responded. “This is not about the Koch brothers this is about — ”
“Well, who’s paying your salary?” Matthews said.
“I work for Americans for Prosperity,” Hagerstrom responded. “We’re a nonprofit.”
“Who’s paying your salary?” Matthews repeated.
Hagerstrom said he came on the show to talk about policy. Matthews wasn’t interested: “Who’s paying your salary to do what you’re doing right now?”
“I just told you, Americans for Prosperity,” Hagerstrom said.
“What’s that?” Matthews asked, “You’re not answering my question.”
Watch the full segment below, via MSNBC. NewsBusters has an abridged version (scroll):
4. If you don’t vote, you are an idiot
There were a few moments this year when it became apparent that the presidential election was weighing heavily on Matthews. The following monologue on “idiots,” “haters,” “numbskulls,” and the GOP’s “evil” voter suppression tactics is one of those moments:
But wait! There’s more!
Okay, let’s recap:
Anyone who doesn’t vote is an “idiot,” “haters” always vote, “lovers” don’t vote because they’re distracted in frivolous pleasures, third and fourth party candidates are “numbskulls,” long waiting lines at polling stations are because of racist voter suppression tactics, Donald Trump and former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu are racists, any conservative who mentions the president’s ethnicity is kind of “evil,” and the GOP’s supposed anti-ethnic strategy is an appeal to “undereducated, white, working-class voters.”
3. I'm not losing it!
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ October jobs report was notable not only because it showed a sizable decrease in the unemployment rate, but because it was also met with a certain amount of skepticism, most notably from former General Electric CEO Jack Welch:
Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can't debate so change numbers
— Jack Welch (@jack_welch) October 5, 2012
Matthews was not pleased that the former executive would dare to question the data.
“It’s not funny, Jack…You’re talking about the President of the United States playing with the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ numbers. This is Nixon stuff. This is what Nixon said back in the old days,” Matthews said.
“Chris, don’t lose it now,” Welch said.
“I’m not losing it. Look at my face. I’m not losing it,” Matthews said.
“Jack, do you want to take back the charge that there was corruption here,” Matthews asked again, getting the same answer.
“You don’t think it’s coincidental that we’ve got the biggest surge since 1983 in the jobs surge? Come on, Chris,” Welch said, refusing to back down. “It’s a six percent improvement in employment in two months…The numbers don’t jibe.”
He continued: “These numbers defy logic. They defy logic. We do not have a 4 to 5 percent booming economy with 873,000 people added. I mean, stop it, Chris. On the face of it, we don’t have this GDP. I love you, but you can’t get there.”
2. First Debate Meltdown
Following Barack Obama's tired and widely-panned performance in the first presidential debate, a deeply dismayed Matthews took to the airwaves to vent his frustration.
“I don’t know what he was doing out there. He had his head down, he was enduring the debate rather than fighting it. Romney, on the other hand, came in with a campaign. He had a plan, he was going to dominate the time, he was going to be aggressive, he was going to push the moderator around, which he did effectively, he was going to relish the evening, enjoying it,” Matthews said.
“Here’s my question for Obama: I know he likes saying he doesn’t watch cable television but maybe he should start. Maybe he should start. I don’t know how he let Romney get away with the crap he throughout tonight about Social Security,” Matthews complained.
“Where was Obama tonight? He should watch — well, not just Hardball, Rachel, he should watch you, he should watch the Reverend Al [Sharpton], he should watch Lawrence. He would learn something about this debate. There’s a hot debate going on in this country. You know where it’s been held? Here on this network is where we’re having the debate,” Matthews said.
“We have our knives out,” Matthews added. “We go after the people and the facts.”
1. Gee, I’m happy we had that terrifying & destructive hurricane sandy
While wrapping up his thoughts on the outcome of the 2012 presidential election, Matthews expressed gratitude for the political boost Hurricane Sandy gave President Obama:
BONUS: Although Matthews is well-versed in the art of “shouting down,” a few people refuse to be pushed around by the left-leaning host. Take, for example, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich who, during a heated debate on supposed “racist dog whistles,” turned the tables on Matthews.
“What’s a ‘food stamp president’?” Matthews asked.
“A ‘food stamp president’ is the guy whose policies are so destructive, that he creates the longest unemployment since the Great Depression and he puts more people on food stamps — most of them white — than anybody else,” the former speaker responded.
“Why do you assume food stamp refers to blacks?” Gingrich added, turning the tables on the MSNBC host. “What kind of racist thinking do you have? You’re being a racist because you assume they’re black!”
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(H/T: Washington Examiner). Featured image Associated Press. This post has been updated.