Stuart Rothenberg has had enough, and isn't going on Hardball again. Why? Because he has suddenly realized "it's time to change the tone of our 'politics' " coverage:
Chris Matthews is a smart, politically astute observer of politics, but my last appearance convinced me that "Hardball" has evolved from a straight political news program with quality guests to one that has more in common with its network's prime-time slant. Like most of the evening programming on MSNBC and the Fox News Channel, "Hardball" has become a partisan, heavily ideological sledgehammer clearly intended to beat up one party and one point of view.
During the show on which I appeared, Matthews referred more than once to Republicans as "Luddites" and took every opportunity imaginable to portray them as crackpots. The show's topics inevitably pander to the most liberal Democratic viewers and present Republicans and conservatives in the least flattering of terms.
Uh, when, exactly, was Chris Matthews' Hardball a "straight political news program"? When has anything about Matthews ever been "straight"?
When he was insisting that "everybody" likes George W. Bush, except "the real whack jobs"? (Bush's approval ratings at the time were in the 30s.)
When he was comparing Bush to Atticus Finch?
When he said Bush "glimmers" with "sunny nobility"? Or when he gushed over Bush's "mission accomplished" stunt, revealing what could only be described as a crush on the president?
When he derided Democratic critics of Bush's handling of Iraq as "carpers and complainers"?
Or when he ridiculed Barack Obama for ordering orange juice in a diner and said Obama's bowling was insufficiently "macho"? When he called Obama an elitist who had trouble connecting with "regular people" -- by which he meant "white people"?
Or when he called Hillary Clinton a "She Devil" and said she was "witchy"? Or when he said of Clinton, "I hate her. I hate her. All that she stands for"?
Or when he spent two years absolutely trashing Al Gore, helping to hand the presidency to George W. Bush? Or when he turned over his airwaves to Gennifer Flowers, allowing her to accuse President Clinton of murder?
Is that when his was a "straight political news program"?
One last question: What does it say about Rothenberg that he is only now concerned that Matthews is not an impartial, balanced observer?