Matthews on Obama: "[T]his gets very ethnic, but the fact that he's good at basketball doesn't surprise anybody"

››› ››› RYAN CHIACHIERE

On Hardball, discussing Sen. Barack Obama's bowling performance at a campaign stop, Chris Matthews said to MSNBC political analyst Michelle Bernard, "You know, Michelle -- and this gets very ethnic, but the fact that he's good at basketball doesn't surprise anybody, but the fact that he's that terrible at bowling does make you wonder." While showing the video of Obama's bowling, Matthews asserted, "[I]t isn't the most macho form there."

On the March 31 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, discussing Sen. Barack Obama's bowling performance at a March 29 campaign stop at Pleasant Valley Lanes in Altoona, Pennsylvania, MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman asserted, "[I]f you can't do something like that, you shouldn't do it. He should have stuck to shooting hoops -- which he's very, very good at, by the way, and which translates racially, too, especially during the NCAA basketball tournament. Don't do something you've never tried before in front of a national television audience, OK?" Addressing MSNBC political analyst Michelle Bernard, host Chris Matthews responded, "You know, Michelle -- and this gets very ethnic, but the fact that he's good at basketball doesn't surprise anybody, but the fact that he's that terrible at bowling does make you wonder." While showing the video of Obama's bowling, Matthews asserted, "[I]t isn't the most macho form there."

Media Matters for America documented that on the March 31 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Willie Geist repeatedly mocked Obama's bowling performance -- which Scarborough called "dainty."

Earlier on Hardball, Matthews asked Obama supporter Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA) about Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama's former pastor, by asserting, "Let me ask you about this Jeremiah Wright story. You go to a church. I assume it's a black church. That's my jump to assumption there." He added, "Is this preacher problem a real problem? I've looked at it. It doesn't seem to bother black voters. It seems to bother some white voters. What is that story about? How do you see that story as a political problem for Barack Obama?"

From the March 31 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this Jeremiah Wright story. You go to a church. I assume it's a black church. That's my jump to assumption there. Is this preacher problem a real problem? I've looked at it. It doesn't seem to bother black voters. It seems to bother some white voters. What is that story about? How do you see that story as a political problem for Barack Obama?

FATTAH: Well, you know, Billy Graham probably was the spiritual adviser for five presidents, I think, and he said some of the most offensive things that I think have been on the record on -- and -- at that time. Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and Jeremiah Wright -- we have ministers who are preaching from their theological vantage point. And so when Pat Robertson says, well, 9-11 was brought on by gays, or all these kinds of things, people listen who -- but I think they listen only in the sense of understanding that people who are speaking from a spiritual standpoint sometimes see things the way they see them. But in the real world, Barack Obama is someone who, for his entire life, has brought people together. He's someone who was born of a mixed racial couple. There's no way you can make him out to be anti-white. His mother was white. His grandmother was white. His -- you know, I mean, he talks about his family in a way in which I think none of this Jeremiah Wright stuff is going to attach to Senator Obama.

And the other thing I would say is that Jeremiah Wright, who was a United States Marine, who served at the bedside of President Johnson, he fought for people to have the right to say what they want to, and even when we disagree with it, he actually put on the uniform and made sure that people could speak their mind.

[...]

MATTHEWS: Here's a guy trying to break into the white ethnic voting crowd, so he goes and plays a sport most associated, I think, with regular folks in the big cities and small towns. And you and I grew up doing a little bowling. We know what it's all -- we know what a pathetic score is, and neither of us have ever done a 37, I think it's fair to say.

FINEMAN: Well, to be fair to Barack, it was over seven frames, OK? But that's --

MATTHEWS: OK.

FINEMAN: -- but that still isn't much. He definitely needs some bowling lessons. He should do what we used to do in Pittsburgh, which is all-night bowling for a dollar, you know, really work on your game.

I think he did get [former Pittsburgh Steelers football players] Franco Harris and he did get Jerome Bettis, the Bus, to endorse him. And he's traveling around on the bus with the Bus. But if you can't do something like that, you shouldn't do it. He should have stuck to shooting hoops --

MATTHEWS: Yeah, I know.

FINEMAN: -- which he's very, very good at, by the way, and which translates racially, too, especially during the NCAA basketball tournament. Don't do something you've never tried before in front of a national television audience, OK?

MATTHEWS: You know, Michelle -- and this gets very ethnic, but the fact that he's good at basketball doesn't surprise anybody, but the fact that he's that terrible at bowling does make you wonder --

FINEMAN: That doesn't surprise anybody either.

BERNARD: Well, it certainly doesn't surprise anybody black, I can tell you that.

MATTHEWS: Is black a bowling --

FINEMAN: This is just killing him.

MATTHEWS: I don't know, I guess everybody bowls.

FINEMAN: This is just killing him.

MATTHEWS: I know.

FINEMAN: This is just killing him, Chris. Don't show this over and over again.

MATTHEWS: No, no, we're doing it again. This is a killer. Look at this killer. Because it isn't the most macho form there, I must say, but who knows?

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Race & Ethnicity
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Chris Matthews
Show/Publication
Hardball
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.