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Skewering Chris Matthews

By admin Published: April 9, 2008

The New York Times already has online a profile of Chris Matthews by Mark Leibovich that manages to have some affection for Matthews while showing how, time and again, he put a big fat one in the middle of the snarkiness plate for the writer -- or a colleague -- to hit it out. There is, for example, this passage about Matthews and Keith Olbermann working together:

Sometimes during commercial breaks, Matthews will boast to Olbermann of having restrained himself during the prior segment. “And I reward him with a grape,” Olbermann says.

But the piece nails Matthews in its opening sentence:

Whenever Chris Matthews says something he likes, which happens a lot, he repeats it often and at volumes suggesting a speaker who feels insufficiently listened to at times

That's part of what makes me crazy about Matthews on the air. He should be someone I love to listen to; the piece notes that Matthews is a romantic when it comes to politics, and I'm of an age and background to understand that feeling. Moreover, Matthews can be taken seriously as a writer -- check out his book on Kennedy and Nixon.

But I think it's noteworthy that the book's authored is listed as "Christopher J. Matthews" when, in more recent times, on air and in print, he's simply "Chris." I don't think it's just a matter of that's the name he uses on the air. I think that the nickname is meant to make him seem more casual, more regular-guy -- but that also translates into less thoughtful and understated than he was when writing that book. He's got a nice gig, and he's famous, and he gets parodied on "SNL." But he's more, and better, than that.

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