The Village Idiot

I'm honestly not trying to be unkind, but that is quite clearly the intent and thrust of this Sunday's NY Times Magazine feature on Chris Matthews.

I'm honestly not trying to be unkind, but that is quite clearly the intent and thrust of this Sunday's NY Times Magazine feature on Chris Matthews.

Cable political coverage has changed, however, and so has the sensibility that viewers -- particularly young ones -- expect from it. Matthews's bombast is radically at odds with the wry, antipolitical style fashioned by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert or the cutting and finely tuned cynicism of Matthews's MSNBC co-worker Keith Olbermann. These hosts betray none of the reverence for politics or the rituals of Washington that Matthews does. On the contrary, they appeal to the eye-rolling tendencies of a cooler, highly educated urban cohort of the electorate that mostly dismisses an exuberant political animal like Matthews as annoyingly antiquated, like the ranting uncle at the Thanksgiving table whom the kids have learned to tune out.

It is almost a cruel caricature: Matthews is prone to effusively repeating phrases in increasingly louder tones; the narcissistic yet self-conscious and uncool geek enthralled with Tim Russert and threatened by kewl kids Keith Olbermann and David Gregory. It's not the NBC News Division, it's high school all over again with grown men several decades past knowing better. Digby:

What really cracks me up in the article is the extent to which people who are just as bad as he is in their own ways try to distance themselves from him. Just as bad are those who go out on a limb to praise him --- because he's so good for them. He does have a TV show, after all, which makes him very important no matter how ridiculous he is:

Matthews is clearly an acquired taste, and some of his most devoted followers are Washington media figures and politicians. “The things people complain about I actually like,” says Roger Simon, the chief political columnist for the Politico news Web site and an occasional guest on “Hardball.” “His interruptions are invariably a reaction to something you just said, which indicates that he is, in fact, listening.” Simon calls Matthews “a major political force” whose shows are closely monitored by campaigns and journalists. “I know when I go on the show, I get comments, I get e-mails,” Simon told me. “He drives conversations.”


↓ Story continues below ↓

Never say that journalists think the story is all about them.

The underlying tone of the article is that Matthews may not be long for MSNBC. His contract is up next June and both he and the network are contemplating the future, and it doesn't sound like it's together.

About Nicole Belle

Nicole Belle's picture
Mom, Wife, Media Critic/Political Analyst, Blogger, Austen Fanatic, Unapologetic Liberal NicoleBelle@crooksandliars.com

Comments

We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.