Chris Matthews claimed, “Deceit is what drives me crazy,” but what about Giuliani's “deceit” ?

A New York Times article quoted Chris Matthews saying, “Deceit is what drives me crazy, either by Bill Clinton or the hawks in this administration.” However, Media Matters for America has documented several instances in which Matthews has failed to note “deceit” by Rudy Giuliani. Despite evidence of Giuliani's “deceit,” Matthews routinely praises Giuliani and his candidacy.

A November 6 New York Times article about prime-time hosts on MSNBC and their criticism of the Bush administration quoted Chris Matthews, the host of MSNBC's Hardball, saying, “Deceit is what drives me crazy, either by Bill Clinton or the hawks in this administration.” However, Media Matters for America has documented several instances in which Matthews has failed to note “deceit” by Republican presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Furthermore, despite evidence of Giuliani's “deceit,” Media Matters has documented that Matthews routinely praises Giuliani and his candidacy. Among other things, Matthews has said Giuliani "looks like [a] president to me," predicted a Giuliani victory in 2008, and said Giuliani “may well be the perfect candidate to replace” President Bush." As recently as the November 6 edition of Hardball, Matthews declared Giuliani “the person with the best shot to win the Republican nomination” and asserted, “I'm not going to sell Rudy. It is not my job to sell anybody.” However, he and his panel of guests, which included the Politico's Mike Allen and the New York Post's Charles Hurt, called Giuliani “a gunslinger,” “a straight-talker,” “a quick draw,” “a tough, kick-butt policeman,” and “this tough, kick-butt cop from New York.”

Matthews has failed to note “deceit” on the part of Giuliani on numerous occasions, including:

  • On the October 29 edition of Hardball, Matthews uncritically aired part of a radio ad for Giuliani in which Giuliani claims that when he had prostate cancer, his “chance of surviving ... in the United States, 82 percent” but that his “chance of surviving prostate cancer in England, only 44 percent under socialized medicine.” But as Media Matters documented, an October 30 entry by Michael Dobbs on's Fact Checker blog noted that “the survivability figures tell us little about the differences in the quality of treatment received by prostate cancer patients in the United States and Britain.” Dobbs wrote that “the two countries are much closer” in terms of the “mortality rates from the disease,” adding, “About 25 men out of 100,000 are dying from prostate cancer every year” in both countries. Dobbs quoted Howard Parnes, chief of the Prostate Cancer Research Group at the National Cancer Institute, saying, “When you introduce screening and early detection into the equation, the survival statistics become meaningless.” Despite this and numerous subsequent reports calling into question Giuliani's statistics, Matthews has still not addressed Giuliani's claims in the ad. On October 31, the Times reported: “Asked if Mr. Giuliani would continue to repeat the statistic, and if the advertisement would continue to run, [Giuliani spokeswoman Maria] Comella responded by e-mail: ” Yes. We will."
  • On the October 12 edition of Hardball, Matthews discussed the possible indictment of former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik on charges relating to Interstate Industrial Corp., a company suspected of having ties to organized crime -- a charge the company denies. Matthews uncritically aired Giuliani's quote, “I've already said I should have checked his background more carefully.” Matthews did not note that Giuliani “told a grand jury that his former chief investigator remembered having briefed him on some aspects of Bernard B. Kerik's relationship with a company suspected of ties to organized crime before Mr. Kerik's appointment as New York City police commissioner,” or that Giuliani does not dispute having received the briefing, despite saying he “had no memory” of it, as The New York Times reported in March.
  • On the October 10 edition of Hardball, Matthews uncritically aired Giuliani's claim during the October 9 debate for Republican presidential candidates that Clinton is “going to give out $1,000 to everybody to set up a 401(k). The problem is, this one costs $5 billion more than the last one.” In fact, as noted, “It's simply not true that Clinton proposes to give out $1,000 to 'everybody.' That sum would only go to those making $60,000 a year or less, and only if they also contribute $1,000 of their own to their 401(k) plans.” Clinton's plan also “provide[s] a 50% match on the first $1000 of savings for every couple making between $60,000 and $100,000, which will be phased out after that.”
  • Media Matters documented another instance of Matthews accepting Giuliani's “deceit” in the October 9 debate. During the debate, moderated by Matthews and CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo, neither moderator challenged Giuliani after he repeated his claim that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) “once said that the unfettered free market is the most destructive force in modern America.” In fact, in a 1996 C-SPAN interview, Clinton agreed with author Aren Ehrenhalt's characterization of the “unfettered free market” as “the most radically disruptive force in American life in the last generation” -- not the “most destructive.” Clinton went on to say that the “market is the driving force behind our prosperity” but that it “cannot be permitted just to run roughshod over people's lives.”

As Media Matters previously noted, Giuliani made a similar claim during the May 15 Republican presidential debate -- asserting that Clinton said she “agreed” that “the unfettered free market is the most disastrous thing in modern America” . At the time, several media outlets uncritically reported his misrepresentation of Clinton's comments. Additionally, in an August 13 CNBC interview, Kudlow & Co. host Larry Kudlow did not challenge Giuliani's assertion that Clinton “agreed with the statement, 'The unfettered free market is the most destructive force in modern America.' ... That's got to tell you her ideology, right? She agreed with that statement a few years ago.”

In addition, as Media Matters for America has repeatedly noted, Matthews has routinely lauded Giuliani for being “on the street” after the September 11 terrorist attacks. But in hyping Giuliani's performance on 9-11, Matthews has failed to note the reason Giuliani was on the “street corner” after the terrorist attacks, though Hardball guests have noted it. For instance, on the September 11 edition of Hardball, Air America president Mark Green noted that Giuliani “located the emergency command center in the World Trade Center complex after it had been attacked” in 1993. As Media Matters has noted, authors Wayne Barrett and Dan Collins wrote in their book Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11 (HarperCollins, 2006) that when Giuliani heard about the disaster, his original destination was his “much-ballyhooed command center” in the World Trade Center complex [Page 6]. According to Barrett and Collins, Kerik, “who was waiting to meet [Giuliani], decided it was too dangerous to bring the mayor up to the command center [Giuliani] had so carefully and expensively built” [Page 340].

On the May 23 edition of Hardball, Matthews did, however, draw attention to an instance of Giuliani's “deceit.” During an interview with Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-DE), Matthews noted that Giuliani “seems to get away with a lot of factual mistakes.” Matthews then aired a clip from the May 21 edition of CBS' Late Show with David Letterman, during which Giuliani said: “It was the policy of the Clinton administration to have regime change in Iraq. So in a way, George Bush carried out what Bill Clinton wanted to do and didn't get the opportunity to do.” Matthews then called Giuliani's comment "[a]bsolutely B.S." and said: “I get so overwhelmed by the lack of fact-checking by the journalists covering these guys every -- why don't they just stop him and say, 'What are you saying, Mayor?' ”

From the November 6 New York Times article:

In an interview Friday, Mr. Matthews, who was once an aide to Thomas P. O'Neill Jr., the former Democratic speaker of the House, recalled that his criticisms of the Clintons in the mid-to-late 1990s made him an outcast within the party, and are still echoed in his skepticism about Mrs. Clinton today.

“I really do take on people with power,” he said. “Deceit is what drives me crazy, either by Bill Clinton or the hawks in this administration.”