On the March 1 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews again touted former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) as a "hero," saying that Southerners "can't spell his name necessarily, but they know Rudy was a hero." Matthews also praised Giuliani as "the one tough cop who was standing on the beat when we got hit last time and stood up and took it." Later in the program, Matthews again noted that Sen. Barack Obama's (D-IL) "middle name is Hussein." As Media Matters has noted, Matthews was apparently the first to publicly mention Obama's middle name as politically significant, doing so on the November 7, 2006, edition of Hardball.
Matthews and other media figures have demonstrated a pattern of uncritically hyping Giuliani as a hero while ignoring allegations that Giuliani was responsible for terrorism-related failures before, during, and after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, as Media Matters for America has documented.
Additionally, MSNBC contributor Mike Barnicle said that Giuliani has "enormous appeal coast to coast because of who he is and what his life and his career represents," adding: "People want to be safe in this country. They want to be secure in this country. They want to have strength in their leadership." Barnicle claimed that Giuliani "represents all of those."
During a subsequent segment, while discussing the presidential candidacies of Giuliani and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Matthews said that "neither one of those guys is riding on the Bush bus" and "[n]either one of them look like Bushies." However, on the February 19 edition of Hardball, Newsweek's Howard Fineman told Matthews that "[t]he McCain people are following the George W. Bush playbook to the extent they possibly can," and explained that McCain was using the "same donors, the same issues, the same attitudes all the way down the line." At the time, Matthews appeared to agree, saying, "[I]t is now Senator John 'McBush.' "
From the March 1 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:
MATTHEWS: Do we want a kind of a Michael -- a nitroglycerine pill, something to really shake up the world and say, "Hey, look we're alive, we've got this hot new president and we're going to take you guys -- by the way his name is -- middle name is Hussein. Get used to it." You know, we can have a guy with a third-world background to some extent. We've got a young guy here, or we've got Rudy Giuliani, the one tough cop who was standing on the beat when we got hit last time and stood up and took it.
MATTHEWS: Now look at that Southern number. We know that Giuliani would be powerful in the ethnic Northeast. But look at the South. I have been saying this for two years now. He's got strength in the South. They can't spell his name necessarily, but they know Rudy was a hero -- Mike Barnicle.
BARNICLE: Well, yeah, but what happens with the delegates to the Republican convention? I mean, you know, how does he get by them?
He has enormous strength, enormous appeal coast to coast because of who he is and what his life and his career represents. Not just September 11. He took on this myth of New York City, this crime-ridden New York City, and he made it safer than it had ever been before. People want to be safe in this country. They want to be secure in this country. They want to have strength in their leadership. He represents all of those.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH (radio host): Well, it tells me that Rudy is on a roll. And I think that Rudy is on a roll because he's playing well in the suburbs. As a matter of fact, an hour ago, I interviewed him, Chris, because -- you're talking a lot about polls tonight -- a Pennsylvania poll just came out that showed that despite the fact that 50 percent of Pennsylvanians think the president is doing a poor job, Pennsylvanians are prepared today to vote for either Rudy or McCain against Barack Obama or [Sen.] Hillary [Rodham Clinton (D-NY)].
And I think the reason why is they're both perceived as being moderate on social issues. And that's a dramatic step from where the Republicans have been. Typically, at this stage, they're trying to placate the evangelicals and the conservatives and --
MATTHEWS: Well, neither one of those guys is riding on the Bush bus.
MATTHEWS: Neither one of them look like Bushies.
From the February 19 edition of MSNBC's Hardball:
FINEMAN: The McCain people are following the George W. Bush playbook to the extent they possibly can. The same donors, the same issues, the same attitudes all the way down the line. And it is so ironic given where McCain was seven years ago.
MATTHEWS: So it is now Senator John "McBush."
FINEMAN: That is one way to put it, yes.