Matthews does not believe McCain would personally join in his campaign's attacks -- but he did

››› ››› DIANNA PARKER

Chris Matthews falsely suggested that Sen. John McCain is unwilling to personally engage in the false accusation made by his campaign that Sen. Barack Obama compared Gov. Sarah Palin to a pig. Matthews stated of McCain: "He would never say Barack Obama called Governor Palin a pig." However, when reportedly asked what he dislikes about campaigning, McCain said: "Probably the negativism, those negative ads and personal attacks, Senator Obama's recent comments about 'lipstick on a pig.' "

MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews falsely suggested that Sen. John McCain is unwilling to personally engage in the false accusation made by his campaign that Sen. Barack Obama was comparing Gov. Sarah Palin to a pig when Obama said, regarding McCain's policies, "[Y]ou can put lipstick on a pig; it's still a pig." Matthews said on the September 11 special edition of MSNBC's 9-11: As It Happened, that when Time's Rick Stengel and PBS' Judy Woodruff had the chance to interview McCain during a civil service forum that day, "it'd have been good if they had said to him, John McCain, when they had him in the hot seat there: Are you saying that your opponent has called your running mate a pig? Just right to his face. Because his ads say it, his people say it, his money says it. Force him to say it, because John McCain would not say it. He would never say Barack Obama called Governor Palin a pig." However, in a September 10 interview with Telemundo, when reportedly asked what he dislikes about campaigning, McCain said: "Probably the negativism, those negative ads and personal attacks, Senator Obama's recent comments about 'lipstick on a pig.' "

Like MSNBC, Telemundo is owned by NBC Universal. McCain's reference in the Telemundo interview to Obama's "lipstick" comment aired on the September 10 edition of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann and the September 10 edition of NBC's Nightly News.

On the September 10 edition of Hardball, before McCain's Telemundo interview aired, Matthews also said that McCain would not "say his opponent called his running mate a pig." During that program, Matthews stated: "I do have a tremendous amount of faith in John McCain's integrity. He used to be on this show all the time. In fact, we did a big thing with him a couple months ago up at Villanova. I don't believe he would sit where you are sitting and call his opponent -- or say his opponent called his running mate a pig. I don't believe he would say that."

On September 11, after the Telemundo interview aired on NBC and MSNBC, Matthews again asserted that McCain "would never say Barack Obama called Governor Palin a pig," and added:

Yet, all the time, the last two or three days have been focused on that very charge from that campaign, with his name and his money on the ad, but make him say it. By the way, we should always do that. When there's some slime being thrown over the fence, we should go over to the other side of the fence, grab the candidate, and say, "Did you throw that slime? You, personally?" And that's why I like these face-to-face, they missed the chance to catch him on that.

From the September 11 edition of MSNBC's 9-11: As It Happened:

MATTHEWS: Well, it's not any worse, but Rudy Giuliani was far worse than she was. I mean, Rudy Giuliani ridiculed this [Obama's work as a community organizer] from day one in his keynote speech. Clearly, it's a way to connotate, to connect him with inner city, South Chicago neighborhoods. It's to make him somewhat remote from the voters they're trying to reach. It's clear politics, and it's like the lipstick thing. I mean, it's clearly the kind of thing that wouldn't happen if they're sitting next to each other. You don't shoot spitballs at the person a foot from you. You don't hang an effigy of the guy having dinner with you. Clearly, when they're close to each other, people like McCain stop doing that stuff.

RACHEL MADDOW (MSNBC host): Do you think the community organizer --

MATTHEWS: When they're in the same room with them --

MADDOW: Do you think that attack, that community organizer reference then is sort of an oblique race reference? Or is it just a difference reference?

MATTHEWS: Well, it's more complicated than that, but let's think -- we think Al Sharpton.

MADDOW: Hmm. Well, then --

MATTHEWS: We think the kind of person that would not be appealing to the voter they're after -- let's put it that way. Let's make it completely referential and relative rather than calling it clearly what we don't know.

But the way -- the use of the lipstick thing was brilliant, because no one really thought that Barack Obama was taking a direct shot. In fact, I wish that -- I like Richard Stengel and Judy Woodruff, they're great correspondents and journalists -- but I thought it'd have been good if they had said to him, John McCain, when they had him in the hot seat there: Are you saying that your opponent has called your running mate a pig? Just right to his face. Because his ads say it, his people say it, his money says it. Force him to say it, because John McCain would not say it. He would never say Barack Obama called Governor Palin a pig.

Yet, all the time, the last two or three days have been focused on that very charge from that campaign, with his name and his money on the ad, but make him say it. By the way, we should always do that. When there's some slime being thrown over the fence, we should go over to the other side of the fence, grab the candidate, and say, "Did you throw that slime? You, personally?" And that's why I like these face-to-face, they missed the chance to catch him on that.

From the September 10 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:

MATTHEWS: I made my point, which I think is, the Republicans use this phrase relentlessly. All their leaders use it. John McCain uses it. His former press secretary wrote a book entitled Lipstick on a Pig, explaining how to use it to cut through spin.

John, you're allowed to say uncle on this show.

JENNY BACKUS (Democratic strategist): Well --

MATTHEWS: You're allowed to come on and say, "My party, in this case, is full of bunk." You're allowed to do that. I give you time to think about that. Your thoughts, Jenny?

BACKUS: Well, I mean, I think the other important thing, and we would -- John was trying to say there, I mean, people need to be very careful about charges of sexism, because, you know, if Sarah Palin and John McCain are so concerned about sexism, how come they don't support equal pay for equal work? Where's the outrage on that?

MATTHEWS: Are you talking substance?

BACKUS: I actually am.

MATTHEWS: Are you talking substance?

BACKUS: Stop the --

MATTHEWS: My God.

BACKUS: It is crazy --

JOHN FEEHERY (Republican strategist): I would like to. I'd like to talk about substance.

BACKUS: -- but that is. I mean, and to go back again, I mean, there is a really disturbing thing happening for people who actually, like me -- there's a lot of Democrats, for a long time, that thought Joe Biden -- everybody thought that John McCain was a pretty decent guy.

But what you're seeing now here is the beginning of hypocrisy, and I think that's a big problem. It's how they brought down John Kerry. They tried to make him look hypocritical. Here, you've got two candidates who say they want to change the tone, and, really --

FEEHERY: Listen, listen --

BACKUS: -- the only makeup worth talking about is --

FEEHERY: -- Jenny, let me say this. Let me say this, that throughout this -- ever since Sarah Palin became the nominee, there's been a sustained attack on everything she's said and done, most of which are complete and total lies from the other campaign. So --

BACKUS: Well, I do want to talk about -- all right, let's talk about it. How about -- how about taxpayer per diem -- taking a per diem from the taxpayer to stay at home?

MATTHEWS: OK.

BACKUS: How about taxpayers paying for travel? How about "Bridge to Nowhere"? I think that's stuff that they made up.

[crosstalk]

FEEHERY: The "Bridge to Nowhere," she was -- she killed the "Bridge to Nowhere," and that's been widely acknowledged that she killed the bridge to nowhere.

BACKUS: OK, she was for the bridge before she was against it.

MATTHEWS: The idea that she was -- she was initially for it.

FEEHERY: Well, of course. I mean, she's the governor.

MATTHEWS: OK. She was initially for it.

BACKUS: Of course.

FEEHERY: And then she saw -- and then she saw the --

MATTHEWS: Of course she was.

FEEHERY: She saw that there was a coast -- a cost overrun.

MATTHEWS: We're not going to show that montage, whatever, collage, whatever you call it, over and over again of her saying she opposed it. Look, I'm not getting into this fight. I do have a tremendous amount of faith in John McCain's integrity. He used to be on this show all the time. In fact, he's -- we did a big thing with him a couple months ago up at Villanova. I don't believe he would sit where you're sitting and call his opponent -- or say his opponent called his running mate a pig. I don't believe he'd say that.

FEEHEREY: I agree with you.

BACKUS: But -- but he is.

MATTHEWS: So, I wonder why his people agree doing that. Let's, if we can --

BACKUS: But, look, if John -- hold on.

MATTHEWS: -- let's show the ad one more time --

BACKUS: OK.

MATTHEWS: -- so that we all know what we're talking about. This is what the focus is. It's not what John McCain says, 'cause he hasn't said anything. It's what he's allowed his campaign to put out, which I think is a distraction. I think you agree with me. We shouldn't be talking about this.

Just to deal with this, let's take a look right now at the campaign Web video, paid for and put out by the McCain campaign, so we're reminding ourselves what we're really dealing with here, which is a claim I don't think the candidate himself would make. Let's watch.

Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Chris Matthews
Show/Publication
Hardball
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