Matthews continued obsession with NY Times' Clinton marriage article on Sunday show

››› ››› ROB DIETZ

Chris Matthews devoted the first 12 minutes of his 30-minute, NBC-syndicated The Chris Matthews Show to asking his panel 17 questions based on The New York Times article that examined the state of the marriage between Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and former President Bill Clinton. Matthews asserted that Bill Clinton "doesn't get special press scrutiny." Panelist and Time magazine assistant managing editor Michael Duffy also appeared to validate the Times' decision to publish the story, stating: "I think if [the Times] hadn't done the story, someone else would have." And in an appearance on CNN's Reliable Sources, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders falsely claimed that the Times article only discussed the Clintons' "public social lives," adding that "The New York Times would be derelict if it didn't report on this" because "it's something people want to know about."

In his continued obsession with reporter Patrick Healy's May 23 New York Times article examining the state of the marriage between Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and former President Bill Clinton, Chris Matthews devoted the first 12 minutes of the May 28 edition of his 30-minute, NBC-syndicated The Chris Matthews Show to asking his panel 17 questions based on the article. Despite the fact that Healy's article alluded to tabloid-style gossip about the Clinton's marriage, cited interviews with "some fifty people," and documented the number of days the Clintons spend together each month, Matthews nonetheless asserted that Bill Clinton "doesn't get special press scrutiny." Panelist and Time magazine assistant managing editor Michael Duffy also appeared to validate the Times' decision to publish the story on the newspaper's front page, stating: "I think if [the Times] hadn't done the story, someone else would have." In addition, none of the other panelists on the show -- CBS News contributor Gloria Borger, Newsweek senior editor Jonathan Alter, and Michele Norris, co-host of National Public Radio's All Things Considered -- questioned the Times' determination of the story's political significance.

Healy's story was also the focus of a segment on CNN's Reliable Sources, where panelist Debra Saunders, a San Francisco Chronicle columnist, falsely claimed that Healy "wrote about their [the Clintons'] public social lives" and "didn't hide in the bushes" -- ignoring the fact that, as Media Matters for America noted, the Times article alluded to tabloid gossip, counted the number of days the two spent together, and apparently requested a copy of "the Clintons' private schedule," a request that was denied. Saunders also claimed that "The New York Times would be derelict if it didn't report on this" because "it's something people want to know about," adding that the story "was handled deftly." In contrast, the other two panelists, Sirius Radio talk show host Bill Press and L.A. Times columnist Patt Morrison, questioned the newsworthiness of the story. Press noted the story "belonged on 'Page Six' of the New York Post [where celebrity gossip appears], not page one of The New York Times," while Morrison asked, as Media Matters has also wondered, whether Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) troubled marriage will "be subject to the same scrutiny" and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani "leaving his wife and sleeping on the couch with a couple of gay friends in their apartment in Manhattan" will "be revisited."

From the May 28 edition of The Chris Matthews Show:

MATTHEWS: Mike, when I picked up the New York Times Tuesday morning, it was right at the top, right at the banner, huge story, Paul [sic] Healy, all about the question of whether the Democrats are worried sick that Bill Clinton might mess this thing up for Hillary. Is it true, the main part of their story that big-shot Democrats are buzzing about this topic?

DUFFY: No question. I think if they hadn't done the story, someone else would have. It's party elders, it's money people, it's just sort of Democratic worriers, for the past couple of months, have been asking reporters to sort of look into this because, I think, they don't want to get down the road in a year or two with a front-runner who's no longer viable. It comes at a time when Mrs. Clinton is thinking about her campaign, trying to decide whether to run. And, you know, I think the other factor here that makes a difference is this is also part of the past. And so as they try to look forward, they don't want to get burned again.

[...]

MATTHEWS: What I want to ask is this: Does Bill Clinton know that he's not lucky in this regard? It's not a question of morality. He -- there's some people who get caught, and some people don't. This guy -- we can all go through a list of five women's names right now if we shake our heads a little bit. It does come out with regard to him. He doesn't get special press scrutiny. It just -- one woman calls a press conference. The other one brings a legal suit. The other one makes terrific charges against him. Another one brags to her friend, who she knows hates Clinton, all about their relationship. He picks -- whatever he does in life causes him trouble.

From the May 28 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:

HOWARD KURTZ (host): Debra Saunders, do you -- do you think the Clintons' marriage should be analyzed and scrutinized and taken apart at great length on the front page of The New York Times?

SAUNDERS: Yes, I do. And I don't think that people go to work to The New York Times so they can hide in bushes and watch what a couple does. But The New York Times would be derelict if it didn't report on this. Newspapers don't exist so that they can not tell people what they're wondering about. And Democratic primary voters want to know if Hillary Clinton runs for president, is the personal life going to be an issue? And by the way, I mean, if there are any Republicans who are triumphant about this, they're crazy, because you don't know how this story's going to play. People will make up their minds whether they care about this or not. But it's something people want to know about. I think it was handled deftly. And Healy wrote about their public social lives. He didn't hide in the bushes. So yeah, it's fair game.

Network/Outlet
NBC, CNN
Person
Chris Matthews, Debra J. Saunders
Show/Publication
The Chris Matthews Show, Reliable Sources
Stories/Interests
Propaganda/Noise Machine, Hillary Clinton
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