Chris Matthews Gets A Lesson On The Golden Rule

Don’t forget…Cliff almost WON Jeopardy!

Chris Matthews, the MSNBC “Hardball” host, has frequently mocked Sarah Palin’s knowledge and intelligence, and often used an iconic TV game show to do it. Such as:

  • “Is this [vice presidential debate] about her brain power?… Do you think cute will beat brains?…Do you think she’d do better on the questions on Jeopardy! or the interview they do during a half-time?…My suspicion is that she has the same lack of intellectual curiosity that the President of the United States has right now and that is scary!”
  • “They find these empty vessels who know nothing about the world! Nothing about foreign policy! Who immediately begin to spout the neo-con line. I read her book — it’s full of that crap….It’s unbelievable how little this woman knows!…Don’t put her on Jeopardy!”
  • “Senator, do you think Sarah Palin is qualified to be President of the United States?…If she were on Jeopardy! right now and the topic was national government, American government generally defined, would she look like an imbecile, or would she look okay? Does she know anything?”
  • “I’d like to see her on just a couple of episodes of “Celebrity Jeopardy!” or ‘It’s Academic” Mac McGarry to just see if she knows anything.”

Now conservative commentators and Palin defenders are taking great joy in Matthews’ own recent performance on “Celebrity Jeopardy,” where he was about as successful as he predicted Palin would be. His low point was probably in the category of “6-Letter World Capitals” with the answer (remember that in “Jeopardy” contestants start with the answer, and have to supply the correct question), “St. Basil’s Cathedral is there.” Matthews’ response,  which was worthy of Ted Baxter, Napoleon Dynamite or Forrest Gump, was “What is Istanbul?”, giving not only the wrong locale for Moscow’s most famous landmark, but also an 8-letter capital.

As a result of his embarrassing failure on the show. Matthews is getting a giant dose of his own medicine, but without the speculative aspect of his criticism of Palin: we now know how Chris would do on “Jeopardy!”  Is this treatment deserved? Oh, Chris asked for it, all right, and I bet Matthews would agree. He set himself up for this pop culture karma, and is now living out the Golden Rule in reverse, being treated by others as he treated Palin. It doesn’t feel good, I’m sure. The difference is that the abuse being heaped on Matthews has the smell and feel of justice.

It isn’t though. This is the Tit-for-Tat rationalization at work. Now it is Chris Matthews’ tormenters who are ignoring the Golden Rule. Matthews was taught his lesson at the hands of Alex Trabek; rubbing it in just makes his detractors look as mean-spirited, unfair and gratuitously nasty as Matthews was to Palin.

What’s that? You don’t think Matthews was unfair to Palin? Tell me: how much would you be willing to wager that her opponent for Vice President, Joe Biden, would best her—or Matthews, OR Forrest—-on “Jeopardy!” ? Like most of the media, Matthews wasn’t interested in fairness; he was just interested in destroying Palin by any means necessary. If Palin, as Matthews did during his quiz show Waterloo,  had misidentified the initials U.S.D.C. as standing for “U.S. District Attorney” (uh, that would be “U.S.D.A.“, Chris) when Katie Couric was grilling her, you can bet the media, including Matthews, would have cited the gaffe as iron-clad proof that she was a dolt. Obama getting the United States mixed up with the Heinz product line and saying there were “57 states”? Just an obviously brilliant guy misspeaking, but still giving Chris that tingle up his leg.

I don’t think Matthews is, to use his word for Palin, “an imbecile,” nor are Palin, Biden or Obama. Jeopardy! is tougher than it looks, and general knowledge, while useful, is not the proper measure of leaders or political pundits. Mocking a public figure’s intelligence based on a Jeopardy! standard is unfair, as Matthews should have known, and is discovering now. Matthews televised humiliation was his lesson and his punishment for being unfair to Palin; it doesn’t excuse others for being cruel to him.


Pointer: Mark Levin

Source: Newsbusters

Graphic: fuckyeahcheers

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at

15 thoughts on “Chris Matthews Gets A Lesson On The Golden Rule

  1. Good to see you’re getting your material from Mark Levin and Newsbusters. those great providers of the Liberal Biased Main Stream Media. I wouldn’t expect anything less from your right wing tilt… hey, it’s a ‘free’ country for not too much longer.

    Snarkiness aside, the Jeopardy analogy does fall flat. As a Liberal, and proud of it ( however you want to slice that one ) – Matthews is a blow-hard who has been humiliated before on air, mainly on the Daily Show by Jon Stewart himself. Matthews came on to tout his book about how “Life is a Campaign” or war or whatever – it was so forgetful and a stretch that Stewart basically did everything short of calling him an imbecile and kicked his ass out of the studio.

    However, my favorite Celebrity Jeopardy moment has to be Cheech Martin dominating “We’ll have to leave it there” Wolf Blitzkrieg – who completely confirmed he is the epitome of an empty suit news reader if there ever was one. It was complete roll reversal – at first glance, the all-powerfull CNN staple, you’d think, would kick Mr. Pot Smoker Posterchild’s tukus. But, being on Jeopardy is a crapshoot – if you get lucky and the categories are what you are familiar with, you have a sporting chance. Or you look like you don’t know squat. Needless to say, I’ll cut Wolf some slack, but Cheech kicked his ass with ease.

    • And speaking of cheap shots: I use all sources, Center, Right and Left. Newsbusters provided a video and a transcript. There was no distortion, and the post, if you read it, criticized the right-side critics. How that possibly justifies “I wouldn’t expect anything less from your right wing tilt” I can’t possibly fathom. Where was I (or especially YOU) going to learn about Matthews’s Massacre other than a conservative media watchdog—Chris himself? MSMBC? The Washington Post?

      That was blatantly unfair, and beneath you.

      • Wow, sorry – I didn’t think I struck that sensitive of a nerve there with my little kneedling. I lean left – I admit it. In my humble opinion Jack – you lean and defend the right. And that is in evidence to the posts you write – I would have to say you’re not exactly 50/50. Am I missing something?

        • In fact, I am very, very close to 50-50, especially on the blog, and I do keep score. On two attitudes and political leanings test I took online, I scored absolutely dead center I agree with liberals on some issues and conservatives on others, but I never agree on a position because I’m one or the other.

          For the record, I expected the tests to show me moderately right of center. I think that’s where I tend, but recognizing the bias, I do adjust for it. And I do use all sources, regardless of bias.

  2. And holey crap I totally remembered this wrong – Andy Richter kicks Wolf’s butt. Anderson Cooper gets his butt kicked by Cheech. That worries me – my memories merged and corn-fused which CNN suit gets owned. Ouch. My bad..!

  3. To be fair, St. Basil the Great was from what is now Turkey so I can see why one might associate “St. Basil” with Turkey. St. Basil’s Cathedral (named after a different Basil) is the most famous Russian landmark but many people think that the onion domed building in Moscow is the Kremlin, rather than St. Basil’s Cathedral (Matthews wouldn’t be alone if this was his mistake). As for the number of letters in Istanbul, Matthews will get no defence from me.

    • You’re a fair man, my friend. Of course, “many people” believe all sorts of absurd things they shouldn’t, and are not highly-paid hosts of news shows. If I had a nickel for every time a news cast would show that dome and the announcer would note that “of course” this was the famous dome of St. Basil’s dominating the Moscow scene, I’d have a lot of nickels. Admittedly, they don’t do that as often since the Cold War ended, but Chris isn’t THAT much youngerr than me.

      • Yeah, I knew about St. Basil’s. I guess Matthews didn’t. I always have respect for people who get the answer wrong on Jeopardy! because I know that doing well at that show means being able to guess answers that you don’t know by associating certain clues with knowledge you have. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t (like when you associate St. Basil with Turkey).

          • Good point. Even more ironically, there was a St. Basil of Ancyra, which is now Ankara. As far as I know, there is no church named after him in his hometown.

            • Good reseach, Eric. I’d forgotten that Ancyra was the same city as Ankara. A lot of those cities from Byzantine, Roman and Persian times in Turkey still exist with altered names since the Turkish conquest.

              • I didn’t know that they were the same cities until I did some research (I was curious to know who the St. Basil in Moscow was named after and I found out a lot about some other St. Basils). Actually, I didn’t know that Ankara and Angora were the same place until I read your previous post. Funny, because I knew about Angora wool but had never really thought about where it came from.

  4. You have higher ethics then me. If someone had treated me the way he treated Palin I would rub his face in this like he was a bad dog who crapped on the carpet.

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