Ghost Of Ethics Dunce Past: “Hardball” Guest Kevin James


[CORRECTION: Boy do I feel stupid. For some reason Slate ran a story about this ridiculous exchange on Hardball, and it confused me into thinking it was current, and related to the Iran deal. My mistake; thanks to Rick Jones for flagging it. Other than the time frame, everything I wrote about James (and Matthews, and MSNBC) stands, and James’ pundit malpractice deserves as much exposure as possible. I’ve made a few edits to eliminate the confusion, which was all mine. I must say, however, I question the need for dredging up past idiots on political talk shows when there is such an abundance of current ones]

I didn’t know who Kevin James was—all I could find were references to the comedian who starred in “King of Queens.”  Apparently this James is a former L.A. mayoral candidate, a lawyer, and radio talk show host. Because MSNBC likes playing the game of finding the most ridiculous, inarticulate, wild-eyed, nut-ball conservative it can to represent any position the network’s ideological clones oppose, Chris Matthews used this guy in 2008 to explain whyt Republicans  thought Obama was “an appeaser” like Neville Chamberlain.  James’ position was that Obama was following in the infamous footsteps of  Chamberlain, who appeased Hitler in Munich while trumpeting “Peace in our time.”

Incredibly, James had no idea what Chamberlain did, and maybe even who he was. Matthews humiliated him by exposing his guest’s jaw-dropping ignorance as James shouted, protested and broadcast to all that he was the epitome of a badly educated, unprepared ideologue, out of his depth, his league, and his mind: How could any sane individual go on TV to compare Obama to Neville Chamberlain without doing the minimal research necessary to justify the comparison?

This is incompetent and irresponsible punditry, advocacy malpractice, and rank stupidity. Of course, it is also unethical for Matthews and MSNBC to allow anyone so abysmally unqualified to be a guest, but fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly. Still, the majority of the blame has to fall on James.

This fool was a federal prosecutor?

I bet the other Kevin James would have done better.

But he might not have been funnier.

Watch, and wince:


Spark and Pointer: Slate

19 thoughts on “Ghost Of Ethics Dunce Past: “Hardball” Guest Kevin James

  1. Oh, c’mon. These people sought out a live strawman. They looked high and low for this guy. They also glossed over the fact that Obama did, in fact, give plenty away.

  2. What’s with the yelling? Yes, it was awful but he was a guest and once It became obvious that he had no idea…well, Matthews could have lightened up but he enjoyed it too much. It was gross to watch. Almost as bad Michelle Obama twerking.

  3. Correction: this week’s Chamberlain comparison came from Dick Cheney’s former deputy assistant, Ron Christie, and Chris Matthews (with the help of David Axelrod) beat him up on air. Kevin James was the 2008 version (the YouTube video I found was uploaded on May 15, 2008) of the same idiot talking head spouting talking points without thought or reason. James was, spectacularly unsuccessfully, defending President Bush’s attack on Democrats in the Knesset. Christie at least knew the Munich accord was. He still–intentionally, apparently–mischaracterizes the terms of the Iran deal. To say it’s a bad deal is one thing, to say Iran gave up literally nothing is an outright lie. Alas, that’s just partisan politics in the 21st century.

    • By the way, the comparison is valid and simple. It’s dumb to trust Iran, and it was dumb to trust Hitler. Hitler didn’t think England would have the guts to fight, and Iran KNOWS Obama doesn’t, since that’s his MO.

      • FWIW. From my old blog, from May of ’08:

        “…after being asked 24 times (!) what, exactly, Neville Chamberlain had done that was ‘exactly the same thing’ as Obama’s foreign policy, right-wing nut job talk-show host Kevin James had to admit that he didn’t know! …

        “Poor baby, he’d just been sent out to scream that Obama is an appeaser: how dare this Matthews guy actually know what the term means? Of course, the Bush/McCain policy isn’t wrong just because one of its most vocal supporters is an ignorant jackass, any more than Obama is ‘soft on terror’ because a political adviser to Hamas said that he is ‘like John Kennedy, a great man with great principle, [and] a vision to change America to make it in a position to lead the world community, but not with humiliation and arrogance.’ (Be it noted that Obama didn’t help his case by saying he was ‘flattered’ by the comparison to Kennedy, given the source.)”

    • How is someone brought on to compare Obama and Chamberlain who doesn’t know who Chamberlain is a “legitimate guest?” This is no different from the dummies Sean Hannity brings on to ridicule progressives, or the mentally challenged pair sent in to be slaughtered by Simon Cowell on “American Idol.” It’s lousy journalism and a despicable tactic whoever uses it. That doesn’t excuse James, but “legitmate guest”?

      • I think Jan may have been referring to Christie, to whom the term “legitimate guest” applies. And in the Christie interview, Matthews’ argument, though a bit foam-flecked, is ultimately that “Hitler comparisons… are never apt.” I think that’s a defensible point.

        • I wrote about this, as you may know. Hitler comparisons are apt when they are apt, and people who try to shut them down on some made up formula are suspect as trying to cover up something, I’d say. Is Iran more friendly to Jews than Hitler? I see no evidence of it. Is Iran any more trustworthy than Nazi Germany? Again, not that I can see. Does Israel have every right and reason to compare one potential genocidal nation to the one that actually carried out genocide? Seems reasonable to me.

          Since Matthews was in his “thrill up the leg” stage in 2008, I have no trouble discounting anything he said on the topic of Obama as tainted.

  4. Did the many references to President Bush, and the fact that Obama was surrounded by “Change” signage didn’t give you a hint that you’d time traveled?

    • 1) obama has never stopped campaigning on “change”

      2) obama has never stopped mentioning Bush (usually to blame)

      So those are no clues for guessing time…

    • The guy was babbling. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had mentioned the Cat in the Hat. But to answer your question, it’s res ipsa loquitur, isn’t it? Obviously I didn’t pick up on it. Classic example of how once one’s attention has been focused, you can miss a lot: I saw a current Slate post, as lots of Republicans were making Munich references, that pointed to the interview, so I assumed the newsworthy event wasn’t 7 years old. If I had been shown the clip after the challenge, “Guess when this took place” (the news crawl under the video was also a big clue, upon review), I assure you that I would have figured it out. Unfortunately, I was already looking for examples of clueless pundits on Iran, this fit, and I missed the forest for the trees.

      But it was kind of you to rub it in.

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