April 9, 2008

"Chris Matthews, Seriously. (O.K., Not That Seriously)."

I'm glad to see the title — on a NYT Magazine article previewed here — because I was just calling Matthews a comedian in the context of explaining his "sexist" remarks about Hillary — on video that you'll see on line probably later today. From the article:
Cable political coverage has changed... and so has the sensibility that viewers -- particularly young ones -- expect from it. Matthews's bombast is radically at odds with the wry, antipolitical style fashioned by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert or the cutting and finely tuned cynicism of Matthews's MSNBC co-worker Keith Olbermann. These hosts betray none of the reverence for politics or the rituals of Washington that Matthews does. On the contrary, they appeal to the eye-rolling tendencies of a cooler, highly educated urban cohort of the electorate that mostly dismisses an exuberant political animal like Matthews as annoyingly antiquated, like the ranting uncle at the Thanksgiving table whom the kids have learned to tune out.
But Matthews's performance is comic, is it not? I think he's more like Stewart and Colbert than Keith Obermann is. But there is something about Matthew's that uncool and loutish/boyish. He's more of a comedian the way Rush Limbaugh is a comedian — and I do think Rush Limbaugh is a comedian, not that he doesn't care about what he cares about. I mean, George Carlin cares about what he cares about, and he's a comedian. Not that Carlin — the best living comedian, right? — is uncool and loutish/boyish — cool and urban either for that matter.

ADDED: The NYT has put the whole article up. Here's the part about the "sexist" attitude toward Hillary:
Matthews says the notion that he is sexist has been pushed unfairly by blogs, women’s groups and, to some degree, the Clinton campaign. His remark that Clinton benefitted because her husband “messed around” triggered much outrage from the Clinton team. Matthews eventually apologized in a rambling on-air explanation, but he hardly sounds contrite now. “I was tonally inaccurate but factually true,” he told me. I had asked him earlier if he was forced into the apology. “Oh, yeah, of course I was forced into that,” he said, laughing. “No, no, no . . . Phil [Griffin] asked me to do that.”

Matthews vigorously denies the broader charge that he demeans women on the air. “I don’t think there’s any evidence of that at all,” he said at brunch. “I’ve gone back and looked. Give me the evidence. No one can give it to me. I went through all my stuff. I can’t find it.”

43 comments:

Bob said...

Matthews is the only one that has been caught on camera literally raving and drooling. As for Carlin, his material has changed with time and is now quite misanthropic and curmudgeonly.

George said...

Olbermann has 710,000 viewers, Matthews has 314,000, according to numbers out there in cyberspace.

Of course, how many of those people are truly "watching" the show? Maybe Matthews 100,000 real regular viewers.

And what are the income levels of those people, i.e. what are advertisers really getting for what they spend?

Pogo said...

Keith Olbermann's "cutting and finely tuned cynicism"?

Well that explains how "Lions For lambs" got a green light.

Pogo said...

Q1 2008 Ratings: Program Ranker


Fox News had the top five program in Total Viewers, and 15 out of the top 20, during the first quarter of 2008. The top CNN program was CNN Election Center at #6, while the top MSNBC program was Countdown with Keith Olbermann at #20. The O'Reilly Factor was the top program during the time period.

In the A25-54 demo, CNN Election Center placed #3, Countdown came in at #7 and the top three FNC shows (O'Reilly, Hannity and Colmes and On the Record) remained in that order.

Christy said...

I watch the end of his Sunday show simply for the "Tell me something I don't know" segment. Sometimes it is the only place to see fresh ideas on Sunday morning.

P. Rich said...

a cooler, highly educated urban cohort

I enjoy these little inserts which are aimed at reinforcing the "We've got lots of smart people on the Left." meme. Unfortunately, most of them are practitioners and products from dumbed-down institutions of "higher" learning and holders of quasi degrees such as Sociology and Women's Studies, or History and African Studies, or Diversity Law, or... Selective consumers of information? Capable analytical thinkers? Not so much, and it's rapidly downhill intellectually from here.

AJ Lynch said...

To follow up on what Pogo said- the MSM writes and reports way more on the little-watched shows on MSNBC than it ever does on FOX news.

It is "wishful reporting". Reminds me of those regular stories predicting soccer is soon to overtake baseball & football as our favorite sport or that Americans are giving up our SUV's.

Middle Class Guy said...

Matthews is more of a clown than a comedian. He is like an affable buffoon, an intelligent buffoon, but still a buffoon. Limbaugh is a self admitted entertainer, and George Carlin is still truely funny. Even Al Franken, though boring as a radio accouncer, is funny.

Keith Olbermann is in a class of one. He is a vicious, cruel, hatefilled, spiteful, partisan hack. He is the perpetual schoolyard bully. I would bet his whole audience consists of the KOS kids, MyDD, and the Democratic Underground. I cannot imagine anyone intelligent watching him.

SteveR said...

I'd rather have a beer with Matthews than a free steak dinner in the same restaurant as Olbermann. All these folks live in an echo chamber, constantly reinforcing their own ideas and reminding themselves how smart they are. Its really boring stuff and the thought that 1 million or so people a night want to watch the MSNBC/NBC/Newsweek group practice rectal-cranial inversions, just shows you how little some people are willing to think.

knoxwhirled said...

Not that Carlin — the best living comedian, right?

Oh Althouse, you're such a Boomer sometimes! --I say that with the utmost affection.

####

Keith Olbermann's "cutting and finely tuned cynicism"? Well that explains how "Lions For lambs" got a green light.

LOL!

John Althouse Cohen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Althouse Cohen said...

Matthews's bombast is radically at odds with ... Matthews's MSNBC co-worker Keith Olbermann.

This person must have never seen Keith Olbermann.

Richard Fagin said...

Carlin.... the best living comedian, right?

Um, no.

Fen said...

I enjoy these little inserts which are aimed at reinforcing the "We've got lots of smart people on the Left." meme.

Me too. Because if it were true, they wouldn't feel the urge to mention it at every opportunity. Very insecure.

It always reminds me of the high school punk [virgin] bragging about all the women he's bedded. Too funny.

Ralph said...

Matthews's contract expires next year, and NBC officials clearly would like to renew it for considerably less than the $5 million a year he is making now.
As a GE stockholder, I certainly hope so. I'm sure he (and the other overpaid talkingheads) doesn't see the irony in complaining about high CEO salaries.

Alan said...

I'd say Robin Williams is the best living comedian. Williams' material is just the funniest stuff around. But Carlin is probably a close second. His routines are brilliant because they're crafted like hilarious essays.

Invisible Man said...

To follow up on what Pogo said- the MSM writes and reports way more on the little-watched shows on MSNBC than it ever does on FOX news.

Guess what, the MSM also writes and reports way more on Paul Thomas Anderson movies than Michael Bay movies, and PTA's movies combined may not have equaled the money made by Transformers. I'm not a big Chris Matthews fan at all, but at least there something, albeit often juvenile, under the surface. Other than maybe Brit Hume's show (the lowest rated of the bunch), Fox has cornered the market on loud, effects-driven drivel packaged to gain as large an audience as possible. And that sounds exactly like a Micheal Bay movie.

Ann Althouse said...

If you don't think Carlin is the best, you have to say who is better. Robin Williams? No. He was the funniest person for a while there in the 70s.

Anthony said...

What does Matthews' leg have to say about all this?

Trooper York said...

"I'd say Robin Williams is the best living comedian. Williams' material is just the funniest stuff around. But Carlin is probably a close second. His routines are brilliant because they're crafted like hilarious essays"

What are you retarded. Robin Williiams is the Anti-Christ and George Carlin is a washed up hack who hasn't been funny since Car Wash.

Funniest man: Jim Norton

Funniest woman: Lisa Lampenelli

Trooper York said...

Honorable mention: Nick DePalo, Jeffrey Ross and Dave Atell.

If you want to see new young funny comedians, watch Comics Unleashed that come on around 2 in the morning hosted by Bryon Allen. You got to get out of the seventies dude.

Pogo said...

I think the funniest person alive is Florence King.

Zeb Quinn said...

I don't agree that Carlin is the greatest living comdeian. Too vulgar.

Ralph said...

I don't agree that Carlin is the greatest living comdeian. Too vulgar.
Funniest woman: Lisa Lampenelli

We seem to have a slight difference in taste here.

Trooper York said...

Lisa isn't vulgar. Except when she is talking about how she likes to get boned by black dudes.

Ralph said...

Kathy Griffin is pretty funny, but requires some knowledge of current celebrities.
For several years, cable was full of standup shows, then wrestling, then poker, now Law and Order. What next?

Trooper York said...

Every single family in America will a reality show. We can pitch one for Althouse with all her wacky regulars in guest starring roles.

Pogo said...

Only if I can be someone else, like maybe a too-friendly orangutan with a penchant for cigars. And my Cyrus imitation is dead on.

Trooper York said...

Pogo, you can be the wacky doctor who schools the interns like on Scrubs.

Trooper York said...

Cyrus is of course, the beaver.

Well at least the rumor is she has a beaver, but you never know on the internets.

Pogo said...

If Cyrus is the Beaver, I'm all for letting Eddy Haskell pull Beav's underwear up over his head and hanging him from the locker hook at school.

Trooper York said...

Now, now, we should always be nice to the Beaver. And you have to be careful. I think this paticular beaver has big teeth.

blake said...

(*&#$* Blogger ate my post.

I think Carlin is the greatest living technician, even if a lot of his material has degenerated into "clap humor" over the years.

Robin Williams ran out of material in 1979. And he's not a stand-up anymore anyway.

Steve Martin was a rock star. I think he could still be doing it, as he seems to be able to pull off a bit with apparent effortlessness. He's also a great technician--but also not a stand-up anymore.

While I like Trooper's list, I say if you're going to talk "greatest" and not just "flavor of the month", you need to show someone who's been solidly working for 10-15 years.

Which makes you realize how few guys from the early '90s are still in front of the brick wall. And how many seem to have died (Hicks, Jeni, Wulfsberg)!

Tells me it's a tough job.

Trooper York said...

Thats just the point. Comedy is of the moment. At one time Sid Ceaser, Mel Brooks, Richard Pyror and Eddie Murphy were the best hands down. But then the time passes and a new guy comes along. Most last on top 2-3 years. No one has the top rung on the ladder for more than that. There is always a new champ.

Hey blake, who do you want to be on the reality show. I am shooting for either Fred Flintstone, Ralph Kramden, Peter Griffith or the according to Jim guy.

Trooper York said...

Titus is of course the kid on Who's the Boss.

blake said...

Can I be Stephen Wright?

I mean, if he's not being himself.

Peter said...

I always found Carlin to be the definition of middlebrow for people who think he's highbrow. But I'm not from the right generation to appreciate him, I suppose.

For greatest living comedian, let's remember that Cosby is still living. And he's even politically relevant these days. And for people still at their peaks, a guy named Rock has been pretty damned funny for a long time now.

blake said...

I certainly thought about The Cos, but he hasn't done stand-up in how long?

For that matter, when's the last time Rock took to the stage for 1-2 hours?

Peter said...


Cosby is still touring.


So is Rock, actually.

blake said...

They're touring again. In Cos's case, after quite some time, if I'm not mistaken. Though he has been using his skills on the game shows.

Rock...let's talk in 5-10 years.

Carlin's been going nonstop for, what, 50 years? And what's sort of funny to me is that he gets less mellow and more manic over time. His audience doesn't seem to be all that old, either.

Hmmm. Jackie Mason--forgot about him. He's still going strong.

Peter said...

Well in any case, the answer to your question -- how long has it been since they've been on stage -- appears to be: a couple of days.

Patm said...

I remember when Chris Matthews invited Michelle Malkin on to discuss her book and then wouldn't let her talk, all the while hurling labels at her.

Demeaning.

knoxwhirled said...

Robin Williiams is the Anti-Christ and George Carlin is a washed up hack

Someone else who believes Robin Williams is pure evil! cool!