Chris Matthews's Nazi analogy: "Who made that [Kerry] ad -- Leni Riefenstahl?"

››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

On the August 10 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, after airing a Democratic National Committee (DNC) ad depicting Senator John Kerry (D-MA) speaking about national security and defense at the Democratic National Convention, host Chris Matthews asked, "Who made that ad -- Leni Riefenstahl? You know what I'm talking about, a lot of flags." Leni Riefenstahl was a Nazi-propaganda filmmaker.

As Media Matters for America noted on August 11, MSNBC considers Matthews a "news anchor" (as opposed to an "opinion anchor") -- notwithstanding the frequent instances of distortions, misstatements, and unsourced speculation by Matthews, as documented by MMFA. The New York Times reported Matthews's status as "news anchor" in an August 11 campaign briefing, in which MSNBC president and general manager Rick Kaplan defended an appearance at a campaign rally for President George W. Bush by Scarborough Country host and former U.S. Representative Joe Scarborough (R-FL), who is, according to Kaplan, an "opinion anchor." As MMFA noted, Kaplan told The New York Times that the network has different rules for "opinion anchors" (e.g., Scarborough) and "news anchors" (e.g., Matthews, Dan Abrams, Deborah Norville, and Keith Olbermann).

While Matthews was only apparently likening the appearance of the campaign ad to the visuals of rallies in Nazi Germany, and not commenting on the content of the ad, more extreme Nazi references have been commonplace in the 2004 election season. As Media Matters for America has noted, FOX News Channel host Bill O'Reilly compared documentary filmmaker and author Michael Moore to Riefenstahl on June 10; on June 23, the New York Post pointed to two other examples of that same comparison. On June 4, Wall Street Journal editorial page deputy editor Daniel Henninger compared German-born filmmaker Roland Emmerich -- the director/writer/producer of The Day After Tomorrow -- to Riefenstahl.

In order to score conservative political points, pundits have recently mentioned by name, in connection with Democrats or progressives, the following Nazis: Chancellor Adolf Hitler, propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, and Gestapo head and SS chief Heinrich Himmler.

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