At the end of an interview, Chris Matthews praises Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, saying, "[Y]ou're doing a great job."
Concluding an interview with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on the January 5 broadcast of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, host Chris Matthews thanked Chertoff and stated: "[Y]ou're doing a great job." Chertoff appeared on the program to discuss immigration reform and the controversy surrounding the National Security Agency's warantless spy program.
It is not clear on what criterion Matthews based his assessment, but Chertoff was part of the Bush administration's widely criticized response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster. As Media Matters for America documented at the time, Chertoff did not declare Katrina an "Incident of National Significance" until two days after the hurricane struck. Chertoff also delayed until September 2, 2005 -- four days after the hurricane struck New Orleans -- the enforcement of his department's own December 2004 National Response Plan, which called for the federal government to take a "primary role" in the disaster response. Among other things, Chertoff falsely claimed that New Orleans citizens "spontaneously" decided to take shelter at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. In fact, as New Orleans Times-Picayune staff writer Bruce Nolan reported on August 29 for the Newhouse News Service (the article was republished in the Times-Picayune on August 30), city officials were already considering opening the convention center as a "temporary refuge to shelter an estimated 50,000 people made homeless by the storm." Chertoff attempted to place the blame for the conditions at the Louisiana Superdome solely on state and local officials.
Matthews also told Chertoff, "I won't say that you're doing a heck of a job because that would be kind of funny" -- a reference to Michael D. Brown, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), an agency under Homeland Security. Five days after Katrina hit, President Bush told Brown he was doing "a heck of a job" despite mounting criticism of Brown over FEMA's response to the disaster. Brown later resigned.
From the January 5 broadcast of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:
MATTHEWS: OK, Mr. Secretary. Thank you for your service, by the way. I won't say that you're doing a heck of a job because that would be kind of funny, but you're doing a great job.
Thank you very much, Michael Chertoff, secretary for Homeland Security.
CHERTOFF: Thanks a lot, Chris.