Chris Matthews drew fire for "comparing" Michael Moore to Osama Bin Laden, and many on the left our howling for an apology. Will Mr. Matthews fold up like a cheap suitcase? We assume so, since, as a reliable Bush-basher, he long ago lost his audience on the right.
Howard Kurtz touches the very tip of the iceberg in this column, noting the quote and linking to Peter Daou of Salon (as we did on Friday). The National Journal Blogometer, on the other hand, leads with this dust-up. Hey, hey.
Let me quickly repeat the Matthews comment:
Chris Matthews began by reading this from Bin Laden's statement:
There is no defect in this solution [a proposed truce] other than preventing the flow of hundreds of billions to the influential people and war merchants in America, who supported Bush's election campaign with billions of dollars.
Matthews then says, roughly, "I mean he sounds like an over the top Michael Moore here, if not a Michael Moore. Do you think that sells in America, that this war is being fought for the Daddy Warbucks?"
Is that clear? Matthews point is that Osama is adopting the rhetoric of Michael Moore, NOT that Michael Moore is adopting the rhetoric of Osama Bin Laden. This is an important distinction that the critics on the left seem to be determined to blur (as evidenced by the observation that, as yet, I have not seen a prominent critic actually post Matthews remarks in context, although that may changed).
Glenn Greenwald, appearing at Crooks and Liars, explains why Matthews is an outrage:
The anger over Chris Matthews’ comment that Osama bin Laden in his new video sounds like Michael Moore, and the resulting campaign demanding that Matthews apologize, arises from much more than a single comment, and has little to do with Moore himself. The Matthews smear illustrates the fact that it has become routine in our national political dialogue, and among our nation's journalists, to equate opposition to George Bush with subversiveness, treason, and support for Al Qaeda.
Well, there is some candor there, at least - this is about a metaphor, not Matthews, so facts don't matter. That is a bit of a relief, although the notion of Matthews as a reliable Bush flack is ludicrous.
Mark Coffey has time for a response.
The normally astute Joe Gandelman runs off the rails with this comment:
Matthews has always called each issue as he has seen it and is probably doing the same this time — but he seemingly lost sight of the political context where his comments cause some to charge he is now just one more echo of the GOP echo chamber.
Hmm, is that how newsies are meant to operate these days? Don't worry about your own opinion, worry about how the partisans on each side will react to it? Would it be fair to read this as "Even if Matthews is right, it will upset the left so he should keep quiet"? How can that be right?
And as evidence that distinctions are being blurred, let's note the comment Mr. Gandelman approvingly cites:
The problem with Matthews' comments is that he is basically saying that over 50% of Americans agree with Osama bin Laden.
Wrong again - Matthews is saying that Osama agrees with over half of Americans. Try it this way - since Osama also mocked Bush's "Mission Accomplished" appearance in a flight suit, should we conclude that no Bush critic will ever raise that again? Is it now an endorsement of the WTC attack to say that "Mission Accomplished" was a miserable failure?
Done With Mirrors also smokes Joe Gandelman, who really does not deserve this kind of negative attention (and I know I have praised him in the past, which increases my surprise today).
On the lighter side, DarkSyde, of the Daily Kos, made an appearance at Protein Wisdom, to much merriment. The DarkSyde theme was to recycle some Kos talking points from last year, cleverly noting that Osama is a religious fundamentalist just like (drum roll...) The Religious Right in the US!!!
Oh, this is breakthrough stuff, although DarkSyde forgot the snappy name ("American Taliban", for folks whose memories stretch back to the Clinton impeachment). DarkSyde was desperately pleased with himself, although he had not really done his homework, since social conservatives are a bit thin on the ground at Jeff Goldstein's site, but no worries - Darksyde had the success you would expect with that line of reasoning.
In response, he did what any self-respecting Kossite would do - he scuttled back to his own DKos playground, declared himself the winner, and "forgot" to link to the actual discussion.
It's hard to pick a favorite bit - at one point, folks were wondering whether Jeff Goldstein had invented Darksyde as another of his comic creations - but let me offer these cautionary Tales from the Darksyde:
(1) The Extended Olive Branch: "But, here’s your chance to talk to a front page writer on the Daily Kos about your positions."
Mere words don't capture the excitement this revelation caused.
(2) The Clever Conspiracy: There are some among my peers who claim it’s [that would be the Moore-Bin Laden “comparison"] been intentionally laid out as a national trap to snare the right for this very purpose.
Oh, they are too smart for us righties. And who set the trap - Was Bin Laden in cahoots with Chris Matthews? Or is Chris Matthews really a lefty (do tell!) trying to lure us to our doom?
This kerfluffle seems to have died its natural death, so my prediction is that Matthews will *not* fold up like a cheap suitcase. He did have an explanation on Friday, where he stated the obvious, so that will have to do.