Over at Slate (discovered via RealClearPolitics), Jack Shafer has a good piece on my favorite memory of inauguration day – Chris Matthews’s noisy, mind-bendingly nonsensical rambling on MSNBC. Here’s a taste:
Nobody in TV news stir-fries his ideas and serves them to the audience faster than MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. Drawing from a larder filled with old anecdotes, unreliable metaphors, wacky intuition, and superficial observations, the always-animated Matthews steers whatever’s handy into the hot wok that is his brain. The sizzling free-associations skitter through his limbic system, leap out his mouth, and look for a resting spot in the national conversation, where they steam like fresh lava in untouchable heaps.
Quite. The experience of tuning into Matthews’s twitterings during a major political event is comparable to that of watching one of those unfortunate crazies on “American Idol”: you know, those weirdos in the early episodes who obliterate a song to the horror of the judges as we — the cruel, snobbish audience — laugh at how stupid they are. (If you don’t, then watch this.). The difference, though, is that with Matthews, there’s no judge: on “Hardball”, the loony in the studio is the presenter.
And boy oh boy does he go on. Just read the transcript of Tuesday’s edition of his show. Matthews talks and shouts and talks and shouts, showering the airspace with endless arrows of boisterous inanity. One wonders, at points, if perhaps someone at MSNBC did not spike his coffee with some LSD-amphetamine compound.
It’s staggering to think that the Telegraph named him second most influential pundit in America. He qualifies as a national treasure perhaps, by dint of his endearing ridiculousness, but influential?
Slate invites readers to submit their favorite “Matthews nugget”. My most cherished “Hardball” inaugural blooper came not in fact from Matthews, but from Norah O’Donnell (though Matthews plays an important part):
MATTHEWS: I met—let‘s go through the names of who I met, John Cusack. I love—I always wanted to meet him. He said he always wanted to meet me. That‘s kind of cool.
And Ed Harris. And Robert De Niro, I met him last night, and Norman –
what‘s his name? Norman…
MATTHEWS: No, not—he‘s dead.