I’ll start by saying that anyone who uses the sentence that “MSNBC is the only counterpart to FOX and the right wing noise machine” has their head completely up their ass. Two hours per day (Olbermann and Maddow) do not make up for the countless hours of “fair and balanced programming” that Chris Matthews, Joe Scarborough or much of the daytime programming comprises – certainly, this is a mixed bag at best and nothing near the ridiculously and blatantly skewed programming on FOX – or even worse, the “supposedly neutral” but SO NOT neutral CNN.
But I digress….
A couple of weeks back, Chris Matthews had two Congressmen on Hardball to discuss health care reform and how the issue could be moved forward in a bipartisan manner. The Republican Congressman appearing was New Jersey’s own Scott Garrett. At the end of the segment, Chris heaped effusive praise on Garrett, calling him his type of Northeastern Republican, which I guess means the most radically rightwing kind. He even invoked the word “moderate” to describe Garrett (at which mention Garrett visibly cringed).
To grasp the abject stupidity of Matthews’ misplaced admiration, you have to understand who Scott Garrett is and what he stands for. As we have documented here time and time again, Garrett is arguably THE most radical right-wing member of Congress. His illustrious legislative record includes, among many other things:
- Voting against aid for victims of Katrina,
- Voting against extending unemployment benefits for American families,
- Voting against extending the Voting Rights Act,
- Voting against providing health care to poor children,
- Voting against anti-price gouging legislation holding big oil accountable,
- Voting against taxing bonuses for Wall Street execs (he actually argued that they “deserved” them),
- Voting for every bloated Bush budget, and
- Voting for every dime spent in Iraq.
Oh, and by the way Chris – He’s also catering to the birthers – if not necessarily an outward one himself, having said at a public meeting that he wanted to see Obama’s birth certificate. Garrett further distinguished himself following the earthquake in Haiti. His message on his Congressional web site said the he was praying for those constituents of his affected by the quake. No mention of the thousands of Haitians who were dead or injured. Garrett also opposed abortion even in the case of rape or incest – allowing a rapist to choose the mother of his child or a molesting father to force his daughter to bear his own grandchild. And he referred dismissively to the push to eliminate DADT as a “side issue” not worthy of his consideration. That’s Chris Matthews’ kind of Republican.
As Jason notes below, Garrett also recently appeared on MSNBC’s The Dylan Ratigan Show with guest host Ed Schultz. Once again he performed his one man show designed to portray himself as the sincere moderate that truly wants to work across party lines for the good of the American people. I can’t blame Ed because he was filling in at the last moment. But I can blame the show’s staff for not doing even a modicum of homework on their guest. Like Matthews, Schultz – someone who should know better – bought the well rehearsed charade hook, line and sinker.
By giving Garrett this kind of forum without challenging him on his record, MSNBC has aided and abetted an insidious political fraud. It is incumbent upon MSNBC to make sure this journalistic incontinence doesn’t happen again. First, try to actually do some research on your guests. You know, like Rachel Maddow does so well. Second, next time you extend an invitation for Congressman Garrett to appear on one of your infotainment shows, ask him why he voted time and time again to deprive Americans of their most basic civil rights. Then ask him how we can buy into his fairy tale of working toward a bipartisan utopia when he questions the very legitimacy of our President to serve in office based on debunked crackpot theories.
Maybe then MSNBC can begin to regain some semblance of journalistic integrity.