Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Butter on the Bread 

A couple of days ago we received a link to a video clip from Think Progress, in which Hardball host Chris Matthews -- who is occasionally mistaken for a liberal by people who do not spend much time around liberals -- repeatedly encouraged new House Majority Leader John Boehner to call Sen. Hillary Clinton a socialist. The bizarre exchange prompted Zemblan patriot J.D. to exclaim: "What HAPPENED to this guy? He's nuts!"

A torrent of speculation followed. From Zemblan patriot K.Z.: "Something strange and dark happened to Matthews when Clinton got his bj. He suddenly turned into a Mel Gibson type catholic." From Zemblan patriot J.M.: "After 9/11, Matthews seemed hawkish on the air but then started going to colleges and making like a liberal anti-Bush guy. Now he seems to be veering back to the mindless right."

This morning, Zemblan patriot P.S., who has long theorized that "Armstrong Williams was just the tip of the iceberg," weighed in with some new information:
A new report advanced to RAW STORY Thursday suggests that Chris Matthews, the star of the Sunday talk show circuit's Hardball, has accepted hefty speaking fees from an array of conservative trade associations.

Matthews has given speeches to at least ten major conservative trade associations since 2001. The report's author, Dave Johnson, who blogs at
Seeing The Forest and is also a fellow at the progressive Commonweal Institute, could find no records indicating that Matthews has spoken before any Democratic-leaning organizations. The report is not a product of the Commonweal Institute.

"Why is Matthews speaking at so many events with Republican-associated trade organizations?" Johnson asks. "What is NBC policy on speaking engagements and why does NBC keep it hidden? Are these trade associations paying Matthews to purchase influence?" . . . .

A call placed to Matthew's publicist was not immediately returned. An NBC spokesperson could not confirm to
RAW STORY whether the network had banned the acceptance of speaking fees. It seems unlikely that Matthews would have spoken to so many groups pro bono. Matthews is also listed at a second speakers bureau here.
In probably unrelated news (from last month):
A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Congress's research and auditing body, tracks more than 340 contracts negotiated between several government departments and PR, advertising and media firms from 2003 through the first part of 2005.

The study, requested by the House of Representatives Democratic leadership, found that from 2003 to mid-2005, the administration racked up some $1.4 billion in contracts with advertising agencies to broadcast positive messages about its policies and initiatives. Another $200 million went to public-relations companies, and $15 million were spent building connections with media outlets. Individual members of the press received a total of $100,000 in promotional contracts.

Seizing on the study's results as a chance to broach accountability issues in the administration, Representative Henry Waxman (D-California) said in a statement that the report showed the White House was spending taxpayer dollars on a self-serving "propaganda effort."

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