On Hardball, host Chris Matthews called Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) "the guy that molested" Martha-Ann Alito, Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr.'s wife.
During the January 30 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews called Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) "the guy that molested" Martha-Ann Alito, wife of Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. Matthews predicted that during President Bush's January 31 State of the Union address, Bush would spotlight Alito's wife, who broke down in tears while Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was questioning Judge Alito at his Senate Judiciary Committee nomination hearings. Matthews said: "Won't they say something very upbeat and bucking up, like isn't she a great woman, and then they'll put the camera right on Ted Kennedy. And show how he was the guy that molested her, basically... the way they [presumably Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats] beat up Judge Alito to make his wife cry." Matthews's comments came during a conversation with MSNBC anchor Tucker Carlson, NBC's chief Washington correspondent Norah O'Donnell, and MSNBC political analyst Ron Reagan.
Immediately following the incident in which Martha-Ann Alito left the hearing room, numerous media outlets seized on her emotional reaction to suggest Democrats "went too far" in questioning Judge Alito.
From the January 30 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:
MATTHEWS: Do you think the press cameras, the network cameras, will enjoy highlighting these campus characters?
CARLSON: I hope so. I hope they do. That's like the most interesting thing of the whole event. I love it.
MATTHEWS: Well, another visual I want to suggest the possibility that the president will be on top of his game. His people like [presidential counselor] Dan Bartlett and such will be on the top of their game. And then Martha-Ann Alito will be up in the gallery, the woman who was --
O'DONNELL: But not crying.
MATTHEWS: The president will say something -- well, Norah, you follow the White House, you know how it works. Won't they say something very upbeat and bucking up, like, "Isn't she a great woman," and then they'll put the camera right on Ted Kennedy. And show how he was the guy that molested her, basically. That's the way they'll play it.
O'DONNELL: Well, sure. The president always uses his box and those who sit next to the first lady to sort of symbolize some great moment, and clearly one of the high points for this president over the past year has been the fact that he got Chief [Justice] John Roberts confirmed and potentially Sam Alito.
MATTHEWS: -- the way they beat up Judge Alito to make his wife cry.
REAGAN: Norah, will Mrs. Alito be the hero that is featured in the grandstand there?
O`DONNELL: I don't know. But I would imagine that they would pick a what's called sort of a more "regular" American, if you will.
CARLSON: That's my least favorite part. They always have -- it's either an Indian chief or a female firefighter.