Chris Matthews: 'Tim was Mr. America of Iraq War Dupes'
by fairleft, Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 09:54:42 PM EDT
As the Daily Howler wrote on Friday, it was a week for peering inside the dead souls of the U.S. media elite. And the most revealing two paragraphs came from the corporate media's least self-aware disinfotainer, Chris Matthews. Jealousy probably underlay the MSNBC Hardballer stating, immediately after hearing of boss Tim Russert's death, that Russert was the targeted dupe for the 'scary nukes' issue that Bush/Cheney used to get us into Iraq. Here's Matthews on Thursday, June 13 (emphasis added):
One other thing, and may be tricky to say this and I'll say it. When we went to war with Iraq, he and I had a little discussion about that and this is where he is every man. This is where Tim is Mr. or Miss America or Mrs. America. He is us as a country. I said, why--how can you believe this war is justified? And he said, "The nuclear thing. If they have a bomb that they can use, we've got to deal with. We can't walk away from that."
And that to me was the essence of what was wrong with the whole case of the war. They knew the argument that would sell with Mr. America, with the regular guy, with the true American patriot. They used the argument that would sell, that would get us into that war. Tim was right on the nail. He was us, the American people. And that to me is something that has been coming in my head the last couple of hours when Tim and I had that conversation, that that was the thing that sold America. And the guys who wanted the war used that one thing that would sell the patriot in Tim Russert.
In sum, Cheney felt that Russert was the key guy he had to dupe, and it couldn't have been easier: 'TRUST ME TIM, SADDAM'S GOT NUKES!' That's all: no push back, no inquiry, End of F-cking Story. The Howler quotes Matthews and adds (emphasis by fairleft):
Matthews, of course, is describing a private discussion. There's no proof that this discussion occurred . . . But did Russert really get played, as embellishments led us to war in Iraq? You don't have to rely on Matthews. Who can forget the embarrassing exchange Russert had with Bill Moyers, just last year? Had Russert been duped by the war machine? Fairly plainly, Moyers was asking--and as he answered, Russert made one of the most embarrassing statements a big journalist ever has made:
MOYERS (4/25/07): Critics point to September 8, 2002 and to your show in particular, as the classic case of how the press and the government became inseparable. Someone in the Administration plants a dramatic story in the New York Times [fairleft: the aluminum tubes were for nukes b.s.]. And then the Vice President comes on your show and points to the New York Times. It's a circular, self-confirming leak.
RUSSERT: I don't know how Judith Miller and Michael Gordon reported that story, who their sources were. It was a front-page story of the New York Times. When Secretary Rice and Vice President Cheney and others came up that Sunday morning on all the Sunday shows, they did exactly that. My concern was, is that there were concerns expressed by other government officials. And to this day, I wish my phone had rung, or I had access to them.
MOYERS (voice-over): Bob Simon didn't wait for the phone to ring.
Has any journalist on this level ever embarrassed himself so badly? Russert complained that no one called him with the actual skinny. As he continued, Moyers compared Russert's passive conduct to the work of CBS's Bob Simon, who somehow managed to air a report casting doubt on the nuclear claims. Simon hadn't been sitting around hoping the phone would ring:MOYERS (continuing directly): You said a moment ago when we started talking to people who knew about aluminum tubes. What people--who were you talking to?
SIMON: We were talking to people--to scientists--to scientists and to researchers, and to people who had been investigating Iraq from the start.
MOYERS: Would these people have been available to any reporter who called or were they exclusive sources for 60 Minutes?
SIMON: No, I think that many of them would have been available to any reporter who called.
MOYERS: And you just picked up the phone?
SIMON: Just picked up the phone.
MOYERS: Talked to them?
SIMON: Talked to them and then went down with the cameras.
Moyer's voice-over concludes:
Few journalists followed suit. And throughout the fall of 2002 high officials were repeating apocalyptic warnings with virtually no demand from the establishment press for evidence.
Iraq is just the most glaring example of how debased our political mass communications are now. And it's Russert and similar -- hell, it's practically Russert himself -- who have established and dominated our national political debate over the past 16 or so years. Unfortunately the new national conversation he and his have created -- of Gennifer Flowers, of blow-jobs and travel-gates, of Al Gore's untrustworthy clothing, of straight-talking Republicans, of 'tell me your favorite bible verse', of Hillary's got cooties -- has been a long national nightmare.