All four panelists on the June 12 edition of the syndicated Chris Matthews Show -- Time magazine senior writer and columnist Joe Klein, conservative commentator Andrew Sullivan, NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell, and Vogue magazine senior writer Julia Reed -- offered up copious anti-Democrat smears and repeated unfounded claims critical of Democrats. The panelists offered no comparable criticism of Republicans.
In addition, Matthews focused the panel's attention on Sen. John Kerry's (D-MA) recently released college record which shows that Kerry earned a slightly lower cumulative grade-point average than President Bush in four years at Yale. But Matthews did not mention that the grades were simply a part of a larger document release that included Kerry's full military record, which definitively proves that Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's allegations against Kerry during the 2004 presidential campaign were baseless.
In discussing recent controversial statements by Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, Klein called Democrats "a party with absolutely no redeeming social value" and "a really boring and flat party" that's "doing nothing":
MATTHEWS: Joe, the president's down in the polls, the war's down in the polls, Social Security's going nowhere -- an opportunity for the Democrats to look significant. Are they looking silly?
KLEIN: I thought it was really brilliant for Dean to concede the white Christian vote. I mean --
MATTHEWS: It's the majority.
KLEIN: You know, at this point the Democrats are a party with absolutely no redeeming social value. I mean, all they've been about have been these tactical maneuvers in the legislature. There's a movement afoot in corporate America, on the left and the right now, to provide some kind of a universal health care plan -- Democrats, nowhere. They are nowhere on the war. They're not providing any kind of considered opposition to Bush's policy in Iraq, and in national security. They're doing nothing. It's a really boring and flat party.
After likening Dean to former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax, who had an early reputation as a "wild pitcher," Matthews asked the panel if Dean can "get his pitch down." Three of the four panelists said "no." Sullivan went on to remark that Dean is "a deeply unpleasant character":
MATTHEWS: Let's get back to Howard Dean, just for a split second here. We all grew up with Sandy Koufax -- he was a wild pitcher, had a few bad seasons, and then he got his pitch down, he got control, he was good. Can Howard Dean get his pitch down?
KLEIN: Absolutely not.
MITCHELL: I think he might. It's a long time between now and when things get really serious in presidential politics.
MATTHEWS: Andrew, can he be good?
SULLIVAN: No. He's a deeply unpleasant character.
MATTHEWS: Let's take a look at another person who is not so unpleasant normally, Hillary Clinton, not to some people, staking out her place for 2008. This is what she offered up, this sugarplum about Republicans: "It is very hard to stop people who have never been acquainted with the truth." Andrea, they're all a bunch of liars.
MITCHELL: This is Hillary having it both ways, and she's doing it sort of under the radar; not too many people saw this speech. She's gone to the middle in terms of foreign policy, military policy, she's satisfying the future electorate in that respect, but she's still giving the base what they want to hear.
In the course of criticizing Dean, Reed referred to Republicans as "our side." Reed has written a profile of President Bush's daughters for the August 2004 issue of Vogue and has described herself as an "acquaintance of the family":
REED: I think, when he said this is just a diversion to keep from talking about the issues, but he's making himself a diversion. No one in America knows who Ken Mehlman is -- he's chairman of the RNC -- because he's quietly running around raising money. Howard Dean is going to raise money for the Republicans if he keeps on talking like this -- I mean, he's igniting the base on our side -- I mean, on the Republican side.
Reed also contributed to the attacks on Clinton, referring to allegations of "Clinton White House abuses":
REED: I found a quote that was even more damning -- she [Clinton] said there had never been an administration in the history of this country that was more intent on abusing power. Well, I think in a week where we've got a new book about the Clinton White House abuses and when Deep Throat was revealed that it's a remarkable statement.
Reed was apparently referring to one of two books: The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House (Random House, May 2005) by John F. Harris or Edward Klein's forthcoming attack book The Truth About Hillary: What She Knew, When She Knew It, and How Far She'll Go to Become President (Sentinel, June 2005).
Matthews chose to lead a panel discussion on Kerry's Yale grades rather than on his complete military record that refutes Swift Boat Veterans for Truth allegations:
MATTHEWS: Welcome back. It's funny because it's true. We knew George Bush got gentlemanly C's at Yale, but this week brought a brand new twist to that story. You figured John Kerry for the college brainiac in last year's election, right? Wrong. Bush's four-year GPA, write these numbers down ladies and gentlemen, 77 -- that's what he got over four years at Yale. Kerry in four years at Yale got a 76. Julie, you know, Kerry makes a different kind of presentation than that, doesn't he?
Klein added: "Ever since [1952 and 1956 Democratic presidential candidate] Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic Party has had a love affair with eggheads, and sad to say, high IQ is not a leading indicator of success in the presidency."
- Media Ethics