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Matthews: 'I Want to' Enable a 'Successful' Obama Presidency

By Media Research Center
November 7, 2008

If anyone actually expects the media to confront President Obama with the same adversarial approach that they used with President Bush for the past eight years, they're likely going to be disappointed. Appearing on MSNBC's Morning Joe on Thursday, Hardball host Chris Matthews announced that he now sees his job as doing everything he can to make the Obama presidency a success. "I want to do everything I can to make this thing work, this new presidency work," Matthews declared to the astonishment of host Joe Scarborough, who asked him if that was really the job of a journalist. "Yeah, it is my job. My job is to help this country," to "make this work successfully, because this country needs a successful presidency more than anything right now," Matthews insisted.

     Mark Finkelstein, a blogger for the MRC's NewsBusters blog, first posted Matthews' incredible admission on Thursday morning. For his blog entry with video of the November 6 exchange: newsbusters.org

     Last year, on Inside Washington, Newsweek editor Evan Thomas offered a very different view of how journalists should approach Presidents. Host Gordon Peterson asked Thomas, "Are the mainstream media bashing the President unfairly?" Thomas replied: "Well, our job is to bash the President. That's what we do."

     For more on that exchange, including video, see the February 6, 2007 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

     On the November 6 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, Scarborough was asking Matthews whether the Obama team made a mistake in publicizing how Congressman Rahm Emanuel had been offered the job of White House Chief of Staff: "Well, he's sitting there in front of cameras trying to decide whether he wants to be Chief of Staff or not. Don't you think this would have already been decided months ago by he and his family?"

     In the exchange at 7:51 AM EST, Matthews adamantly refused to second-guess the Democrats:

     CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well, I have no idea. I don't question motive, Joe. It's very hard to question motive.
     SCARBOROUGH: You're a good man, but you do-
     MATTHEWS: No, it's true. It's the worst thing you can do in journalism is try to figure out motive. There's no way to determine it.
     SCARBOROUGH: But, Chris, you play hardball, and so let's play hardball here. You've got a guy that just got elected President of the United States. He offers a job up -- but you know, Lyndon Johnson, you just said, Lyndon Johnson, very disciplined, he wanted to make the announcements. You ask people quietly behind the scenes, "Do you want to work as Chief of Staff?"
     MATTHEWS: Yeah, well, you know what? I want to do everything I can to make this thing work, this new presidency work, and I think that-
     SCARBOROUGH: Is that your job? You just talked about being a journalist!
     MATTHEWS: Yeah, it is my job. My job is to help this country.
     SCARBOROUGH: Your job is the make this presidency work?
     MATTHEWS: To make this work successfully, because this country needs a successful presidency more than anything right now.

     Presumably, Matthews will hardly be alone in that sentiment. Once Obama assumes office, the myth of journalists "speaking truth to power" that we've heard so often the past eight years will be a thing of the past.



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