Matthews let Lott absolve Frist of scheduling Senate's gay-marriage debate

››› ››› MATT SINGER

Chris Matthews allowed Sen. Trent Lott to suggest that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist did not make the decision to have the Senate consider the Marriage Protection Amendment during an election year, because Frist "[doesn't] control totally what the schedule might be." In fact, Frist publicly stated in mid-May that Senate debate on the proposed amendment would occur in early June, and then moved to have the Senate consider the motion on the first day it was in session in June. At the conclusion of the interview, Matthews told Lott, "I'm getting to like you too much."

On the June 6 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews allowed Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) to suggest that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) did not make the decision to have the Senate consider the Marriage Protection Amendment during an election year, because Frist "[doesn't] control totally what the schedule might be." In fact, Frist publicly stated in mid-May that Senate debate on the proposed amendment, which would create a federal constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, would occur in early June, and then moved to have the Senate consider the motion on the first day it was in session in June.

Specifically, on the May 14 broadcast of CNN's Late Edition, Frist told host Wolf Blitzer that the debate would take place "[s]ometime in early June." Frist also expressed support for the amendment during the interview, stating that "we've seen activist judges overturning state by state ... laws defining marriage between a man and a woman," and "that is why we need an amendment to come to the floor of the United States Senate to define marriage as that union between one man and one woman." Frist exercised his prerogative as majority leader to bring up the constitutional amendment on May 26, the last day the Senate was in session in May. As a result, the Senate took up the legislation the next day it was in session, June 5.

Additionally, Matthews's interview with Lott marked the latest instance in which he lavished praise on a Republican. At the conclusion of the interview, he told Lott, "I'm getting to like you too much." As Media Matters for America has documented, Matthews has repeatedly used similarly effusive language to praise other notable Republicans, such as President Bush (here, here, here, here, and here), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) (here, here, and here), former Bush administration Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans, and House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH).

From the June 6 edition of Hardball with Chris Matthews:

MATTHEWS: Thank you, David.

Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi is running for re-election and has no major primary challenger today. He's the former Senate majority leader, and he might be looking to get back into the leadership one of these days.

[...]

MATTHEWS: Do you think it's Karl Rove pushing for an election issue?

LOTT: You know --

MATTHEWS: He's been pretty busy lately.

LOTT: -- I wouldn't put it past him.

MATTHEWS: Right.

LOTT: But in the defense of the leader, Bill Frist, scheduling it now, sometime even as the leader of the Senate, you don't control totally what the schedule may be. Events cause you to have to take something off. Then you've got to put it back on, and with good reason.

[...]

MATTHEWS: I'm just amazed by the -- younger kids are much more turned off to abortion than people my age, but, for some reason, they are shifting on this. Maybe because it's been legal.

LOTT: You know, Chris, we've been through this. You've been through this. When I was in college, I was a little more liberal myself. I remembered arguing this very point, this question of abortion with my own kids, particularly my daughter, who couldn't understand why I would be opposed to that. And then one day she became a young professional woman, and then she became a mother, and now she's much more pro-life than even I am.

MATTHEWS: Yeah, yeah.

LOTT: Life has changed her. You know the old argument: When you're young, if you're not liberal, there's something wrong with your heart. And when you're older, if you're 60 and you're still liberal, there's something wrong with your mind.

And I do think life teaches you lessons, and sometimes they take you the other way. Sometimes you learn by the difficulties of life that maybe you were too high and mighty, and maybe you were too profound and --

[crosstalk]

MATTHEWS: I'm getting to like you too much. Anyway, Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, who is going to be renominated tonight by his party, I'm sure.

From the May 14 edition of CNN's Late Edition:

BLITZER: When are you going to introduce on the floor of the Senate legislation that would ban same-sex marriage?

FRIST: Sometime in early June, in early June. We're going to finish -- the Senate plans will be that we will go through immigration. I'm going to do my best to bring the [Brett] Kavanaugh nomination to the floor of the Senate. And then we have a break at Memorial Day. And very soon after that we will take the proposed amendment on having marriage be defined as a union between a man and a woman.

[...]

BLITZER: What do you say to the vice president [Dick Cheney] and Lynne Cheney, when you look them in the eye and you say, "I want to ban same-sex marriage," knowing that their daughter clearly supports same-sex marriage?

FRIST: Yeah. I basically say, Mr. Vice President, right now, marriage is under attack in this country, and we've seen activist judges overturning state by state law, where state legislatures have passed laws defining marriage between a man and a woman, and that's it. And that is being overturned by a handful of activist judges around the country. And that is why we need an amendment to come to the floor of the United States Senate to define marriage as that union between one man and one woman.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, LGBTQ
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Chris Matthews
Show/Publication
Hardball
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