In his May 21 Media Notes column, Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz suggested that MSNBC is the liberal equivalent of Fox News. Kurtz asserted: "While several of the Democratic candidates have appeared on Fox, the top tier has been shying away, even as the Republicans have debated on MSNBC." Kurtz was referring to the May 3 Republican presidential debate sponsored by MSNBC and The Politico, which was moderated by Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's Hardball and the NBC-syndicated Chris Matthews Show, but Kurtz offered no support for the comparison he drew. In fact, Media Matters for America has documented numerous occasions in which Matthews and his colleagues have showered praise on several of the Republican presidential hopefuls or baselessly attacked Democrats.
Kurtz's May 21 column echoed his earlier suggestion that, because of his Democratic roots, Matthews favors Democrats. On the May 6 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources, Kurtz said of the Democratic presidential candidates' refusal to appear in a debate sponsored by Fox News: "Republicans were willing to participate in an MSNBC debate with a guy who used to work for [former President] Jimmy Carter and [former House Speaker] Tip O'Neill [D]. Should Democrats be refusing to debate on Fox News?"
As Media Matters has documented, Matthews has asserted that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) "deserves to be president, based on his contribution to this country over the years." Matthews has also lauded McCain as a "maverick," "kind of a party renegade," and a "lone gun." On the June 14, 2006, edition of Hardball, Matthews said that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) "may well be the perfect candidate to replace [President Bush]" and that he "spoke a lot like the best of [former British Prime Minister Winston] Churchill." Matthews has also claimed that Giuliani "has street cred" on the issue of "protect[ing] this country against the bad guys." On the January 19 edition of Hardball, Matthews said of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R): "He has the perfect chin, the perfect hair, he looks right. He looks like a Mountie. He looks like from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police." Media Matters has also documented numerous examples of Matthews praising President Bush (here, here, here, here, and here), whom Matthews acknowledges having voted for "at least once."
In contrast to his praise of Republicans, Matthews has repeatedly attacked Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY). As Media Matters documented, during the debate on MSNBC, Matthews asked the GOP candidates, "Would it be good for America to have Bill Clinton back living in the White House?" Later, when he reiterated the question, Matthews asked, "Should the Clintons come back to the White House, especially Big Bill?" Matthews has obsessed over what he has referred to as Bill Clinton's "social life," "personal behavior," "current behavior," and "personal life." Meanwhile, Matthews has compared Sen. Clinton to a "strip-teaser," complained that her voice sounds like "fingernails on a blackboard" to "some men," and falsely claimed that she is "for" the Iraq war. He has referred to her as "witchy" and "sort of a Madame DeFarge of the left."
Also, Tucker Carlson, host of MSNBC's Tucker, has attacked the church that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) attends as "racially exclusive" and "wrong," adding that "it's hard to call that Christianity." Carlson has also claimed that Obama's faith has become "suddenly conspicuous" -- suggesting that Obama has only recently begun addressing his religious background as part of "a very calculated plan on the part of the Democratic Party to win" religious voters in the 2008 presidential race. He has also described Hillary Clinton as "castrating, overbearing, and scary," and suggested that Sen. Robert Menedez (D-NJ) is "a dues-paying member of the Mafia."