'Hardball' Host Takes Hard Knocks From Right and Left

By Nathan Burchfiel | July 7, 2008 | 8:05 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - The host of MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews" is being slammed by two opposing media critics in their annual roundups of the worst examples of media bias.

The conservative Media Research Center (MRC) awarded Matthews the "Crazy Chris Award for Chris Matthews' Left-Wing Lunacy," criticizing Matthews for his support of anti-war activists and attacks on President Bush.

The criticism came as part of the MRC's annual "Best of Notable Quotables," in which the group sums up the worst examples of liberal media bias of the year.

Founded in 1987, the MRC seeks to "prove -- through sound scientific research -- that liberal media bias in the media does exist," according to its website. The MRC is headed by Brent Bozell, who is also president of Cybercast News Service.

The MRC reported that Matthews told anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan that she "sound[s] more informed than most U.S. Congress people" and recommended that she run for office.

It also complained that Matthews suggested an emotional meeting between the mother of a dead U.S. soldier and an Iraqi woman at the 2005 State of the Union was staged "to get [Bush's] general appeal up a bit, a couple of points."

But another group that monitors "conservative misinformation in the U.S. media" also slammed Matthews for promoting the right-wing agenda and praising President Bush. The liberal Media Matters for America (MMFA), founded by former conservative activist David Brock in 2004, gave Matthews its "Misinformer of the Year" award.

The group said that the guest panels on Matthews' show "consistently skew to the right" and that Matthews "has repeatedly emphasized the liberal allegiances of progressive guests, while failing to note that other guests on the same panel were Republican."

It also complained that Matthews lauded a Bush speech as "brilliant" and said the president "belongs on Mount Rushmore."

On Nov. 30, Matthews said that Bush's pro-war speech in November was a "brilliant political move" but did not address the content of the speech. On Dec. 16, Matthews called Bush's push for democracy in the Middle East "a gamble" and said that "if this gamble comes through -- and it's not clear yet ...he belongs on Mount Rushmore."

MRC Director of Media Analysis Tim Graham told Cybercast News Service that he expected Matthews could use the two criticisms to say, "'See, I'm straight in the middle, both sides dislike me,'" but he called the MMFA report "odd."

"Media Matters is supposed to be a website about conservative misinformation," Graham said. "I don't see where anybody can try to argue that Chris Matthews is a conservative."

Graham added that it would be "just as easy to find a pile of things with Chris Matthews being critical of Bush" as it is to find instances of Matthews making positive comments about him.

Graham also criticized MMFA's analysis of guests' political affiliations, saying that Media Matters "has always decided that anyone who's a so-called objective reporter doesn't qualify as a Democrat no matter what they say, so Eleanor Clift can come on and say outrageous stuff and she's still classified as neutral."

Clift is a contributing editor of Newsweek magazine who is a frequent guest on talk shows and is known for her harsh criticism of the Bush administration.

Graham added that Matthews receives a "bizarre" amount of attention, considering that Hardball "isn't that highly rated." Nielsen Media Research found that in November, Hardball ranked 24th among cable news programs. The show is MSNBC's second-most popular show behind Countdown with Keith Olbermann, which ranks 20th overall.

Graham suggested that Matthews is visible in both groups' end-of-year reports because he "did things that were more memorable" in 2005.

Spokesmen for Media Matters for America did not return repeated calls requesting comment Tuesday. Representatives from Hardball did not return calls requesting comment from Chris Matthews. According to a receptionist for the show, Matthews is out of the office this week.

Make media inquiries or request an interview with Nathan Burchfiel.

Subscribe to the free CNSNews.com daily E-brief.

E-mail a comment or news tip to Nathan Burchfiel.

Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.

Sponsored Links