Friday, April 11, 2008

The aria of Tweety

Political correctness? The "big, boorish baboon sighs."

Bob Somerby reviewed Mark Leibovich's, "The Aria of Chris Matthews," a cover story profile of Tweety in Sunday's New York Magazine. As usual, Somerby hits the highlights and cuts through the fluff to unearth the gems: Like this one:

Consider Hillary Clinton, for instance. According to Leibovich, Matthews “notes that he and the former first lady like to ‘kid around’ when they see each other.” If recollection serves, this was Matthews’ interpretation in January when he interrupted a Clinton event to ask a loud, insistent question. In fact, Clinton’s distaste for Matthews seemed clear that day. But so what! When Clinton told Matthews he seemed “obsessed,” he just thought she was kidding around!

Late in the piece, Leibovich captures more of this cluelessness. To his credit, Leibovich makes Matthews and his wife discuss an unpleasant fact—Matthews has often behaved quite boorishly toward women on his cable show. The conversation produces this end:

LEIBOVICH: He bemoaned political correctness. “We’ll, we’re just going to have to survive this era,” Matthews said, sighing.

Poor Chris! Like other Bunker types, he seems to think that he’s caught in an anomalous era—an era driven by all that “political correctness.” Soon, we’ll return to the older ways, this big, boorish baboon sighs.

At any rate, Leibovich makes Matthews look foolish throughout—though it’s never entirely clear in such profiles how much of what’s published is fair. (In our experience, Matthews can also be completely personable and appropriate, as is true of most people.) But Leibovich also omits a great deal—including the most disturbing aspects of Matthews’ work in the past dozen years. On Monday, we’ll consider what isn’t found in this profile—the omissions which make this a bit of a surface treatment. Today, though, let’s consider four things which can be found in this piece. . .

Take a peek at Somerby's analysis. The Daily Howler never disappoints.