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MSNBC's Pro-Bush "Town Meeting"

Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
Media analysis, critiques and activism
ACTION ALERT: June 29, 2005

After George W. Bush's June 28 speech about Iraq, MSNBC's Hardball presented viewers with a decidedly skewed "town meeting" featuring a panel dominated by Iraq war boosters.

The two-hour coverage, hosted by Chris Matthews, was anchored by a panel discussion that featured MSNBC reporter Norah O'Donnell, Islam scholar Reza Aslan, and four conservative Bush supporters: Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, MSNBC host Tucker Carlson, Bobbie Patray of the Eagle Forum of Tennessee and Jerry Sutton, pastor of the Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, where the event was held.

MSNBC's coverage also included interviews with Newsweek's Jon Meacham, Democratic Sen. Joe Biden (who called for "more boots on the ground"), and Republican senators John McCain and John Warner.

In other words, MSNBC's "town meeting" excluded forceful critics of the Iraq war--a war that polls show most Americans no longer support, or believe the White House is mismanaging.

MSNBC's O'Donnell was careful to note that while war critics were the majority, "at the same time, a majority of Americans also believe that we should stay and finish the job. Only 1 in 8 Americans believe that we should cut and run. There are liberal groups like that say we should get out. That's the minority in America. People think that we should stay and finish the job." O'Donnell was apparently referring to a Washington Post poll question (6/28/05) that asked about increasing or decreasing troops, in which 13 percent of respondents wanted U.S. troops to "withdraw immediately."

Most polls, however, show that support for withdrawing U.S. troops is substantially higher than 13 percent. In response to another question in the same poll, 41 percent said that the U.S. troops should be withdrawn from Iraq. In a recent Gallup poll (6/8-12/05), 46 percent said that the "U.S. should bring its troops home as soon as possible," while a Harris poll (6/7-12/05) found 63 percent in favor of "bringing most of our troops home in the next year."

Audience participation also tended to support Bush, causing host Matthews to comment: "It's been a great group. As you can see, the people are passionate. And they have strong patriotic beliefs and moral beliefs, and yet it's been very nice here. No fights or anything." Of course, having an unbalanced panel discussion makes it easy not to have any "fights." Matthews also praised the audience for being supportive of Bush, asking one guest: "Why do you think the people in this part of the country seem to be more manifestly patriotic about this president, and this war, and this situation? What do you think it is, the separation from the coasts?"

Does Matthews really believe that supporting the Iraq war makes citizens more "patriotic"? And is supporting a president the same as being "patriotic about" the president? Were citizens who opposed President Clinton being "unpatriotic" about him?

One member of the audience who disagreed with the consensus provided by MSNBC was actually booed by the town meeting audience, causing Matthews to remark: "Don't boo, now, please, ladies and gentlemen. It's been a good night here. Howard Dean is going to come on our program tomorrow, a different point of view. We have diversity run amok." Has it really come to the point where having the leader of the Democratic National Committee on TV qualifies as "diversity run amok"?

Contact MSNBC and tell them that serious discussion of the Iraq war should include critics of that war. Ask Chris Matthews if he really thinks war supporters and Bush supporters are more "patriotic."


Phone: (202) 583-5000

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I was able to catch a few minutes of Hardball last night when Gov. Dean was the guest. The part i did see involved Matthews asking Dean what it meant that Cheney was saying the insurgents were "in their last throes" versus Rumsfeld saying the US would be in Iraq for another 12 years. What kind of question is that to ask Howard Dean? I was insulted that Matthews would ask Dean such a question and not be posing it to the Bush Administration! To his credit, Dean handled the situation with great skill and Matthews did the usual right wing thing and simply moved on to another matter.

It is high time for the right wing political pundits to pose questions, such as that Matthews asked Dean, to Bush and his staff. Cheney and Rumsfeld made the conflicing comments so why should they not be asked to explain the clear contradiction?

Thank God for websites like this where you can exchange views that are not in lovk step with the mainstream media.

Another thought about Matthews crossed my mind. I was remembering the old high school cheerleaders' chant:

Rummy, Rummy, he's our man;
If he can't do it, Cheney can.
Cheney, Cheney, he's our man;
If he can't do it, Georgie can.

Chris ought to discard the business suit and change into a letter sweater with the letters GWB emblazoned on the chest.

Not a bad idea about the sweater..Perhaps a likeness of Chimperor could be emblazoned on Mathews chest also. Mathews and W sound and look a lot alike anymore.

MSNBC is struggling so bad in the ratings,I think Democrats/Liberals should boycott the network for its right wing bias.I can gaurentee you guys that MSNBC would change its tune if that occured,they cant afford to lose ANY viewers right now.

I agree. But if we boycott the programs or the network, we have to boycott their sponsors. That's where the money and ultimately the influence are. Boycotting may be an effective weapon - but it may also spark a boycott war of sorts with right-wingers boycotting companies that support left causes. I'm concerned about the country really splitting in half, but something has to be done. We can't boycot everyone. If we take this approach - I think it would be helpful to target some one company that is a broad-based offender -like a heavy contributer to the Bush campaign, plus a heavy sponsor of the Sinclair Broadcasting Group (remember they were supportive of the Swift Boat liars' smear against Kerry), AND a sponsor of MSNBC, AND maybe a major environmental offender as well. With the record of the Bush corporate cronies - it shouldn't be hard to find a target. But it has to be something that the consumer on the street can boycott, so selection of a target will require some research.

Chris Mathews claims to have been a "Tip O'Neill type" democrat when he was growing up. Uh-huh!

Well, when the right wingnuts are on his show, the format goes from "Hard Ball" to "Soft Ball".

Just sent and email to him:
The next time you have a "town meeting", make it real.....not just with supporters of Bush. This was just like his "town meetings" when he was one allowed in unless they supported Bush!

Dear Chris Matthews and Hardball staff,

The MSNBC website calls Hardball a "a nightly hour of in-depth political analysis and fiery debate...." What's more, is that on June 28th, this "fiery debate" was supposed to take place in a "town meeting" setting. One would assume that a town meeting would include anyone from the town, but it seemed that only members of the Two Rivers Baptist church were in attendance.
I'm very disappointed in your failure to produce your trademark "fiery debate." The most provocative ideas came from the show's host (thank you, Mr. Matthews), but strangely enough, every person who was presented with an opportunity to respond to those questions was either supportive or neutral toward the Bush administration's conduct in Iraq. Where's the fire? I read the transcript of the show, and only one person, Kathy Austin from NOW, seemed to disapprove of the president. The "fiery debate" that ensued was audience booing. Not a single, intelligent remark from anyone on the show. Mr. Matthews missed his one opportunity to bring some debate to the show.
A quote from Mr. Matthews makes me wonder if he was unbiased to begin with.

"Why do you think the people in this part of the country seem to be more manifestly patriotic about this president, and this war, and this situation? What do you think it is, the separation from the coasts?"

Patriotism has nothing to do with supporting the president. It can be defined as "love for one's country." But it does have a very positive connotation. How can Mr. Matthews facilitate fiery debate when he is biased toward the president's efforts? To call supporting the president, a war, and waning public support for that war "patriotic," suggests that support is a good thing, regardless of the underlying details. Why would you engage in debate when the moderator favors your opposition?
Thank you for your time. I sincerely hope that "Hardball" will rediscover its fieriness, and that it is not merely trying to foster public support for the president through its media channels.

You misspelled Hardlyball. MSNBC is a joke, but no one is laughing.

However, if you want real news that is really funny, then Jon Stewart's Daily Show it the ticket. Even if you don't have cable, you can still watch major segments at

Anybody who would play up the President who has lied to us, who plays footsy with Saudi Arabia(our invaders on 9-11), who has pushed to desecrate Anwar after a decade of concerted effort to keep the oily hands out of that sacred area, who has tried to dismember Social Security programs inaugurated by the kind of rich man who wanted to do the most for the least able in our nation rather than do the most forBig Business (Haliburton, Enron,), etc. does not deserve any attention we might give him. jw smith

Bush has proven, over and over again, that he is a pathological liar. He has destroyed his credibility so everything he says is merely empty rhetoric and not to be taken seriously. Why don't you give some broadcast time to the truth for a change. Let us hear from a member of the After Downing Street coalition. It appears they have found some TRUTH for a change.

Bring on the TRUTH!
We Should Have Fair and EQUAL Air Space about Bushie and UFO'S.

Isn't it refreshing to be able to hear the wonderful commentary from the gw bush mutual admiration society, otherwise known as the American press? I thought that fascism was buried in the 1940s, but it sure seems that the American people didn't learn the lessons of World War II and the events that led to it!

MSNBC now epitomizes the worst of media bias -- I, for one, will never watch again... and I made a list of advertisers to notify of my decision...

Just sent my comments to Matthews saying his town meeting was skewed toward Bush and a farce. Also, that when Bush goes down as a war criminal, Matthews fate as a journalist will go down with him.


It is dispicable how the media rolls over for money and power instead of truth for their fellow Americans. Where do your loyalties lie? How can you tell when George W. Bush lies? When his lips move!
In the grand scheme of things...when the truth is out, Bush is impeached, and his administration is in prison for war crimes. Where will your news organization be? Will you be publically apologizing for your partisan pay off coverage for this demon and his greedy murderers? I think that the people of our nation will watch news from those who report facts, not scripted commentary based on emotion, lies and fear. Logo's patho's and etho's. Where does your company lay?

If this is the quality of news that Matthews epitimizes on national TV, he can take a long walk off a short pier and drown himself in his own BS.
Get real, Chris, or get fired, and soon, I hope. Such toadying of a pompous toadstool of a program deserves to die a rapid death on the news. Give me liberty or give me death!!! har har har. GIve Matthews a transcript of H. Goering for his enlightenment if he's too dense to get the picture.

Is it President Karl Rove? Who pulls the strings for the lying puppet they call the president? The blood of many thousands of innocent people,men women children are on the hands of this entire administration, all done in the name of greed . How pitiful to call themselves the culture of life.

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