RUSH: We’re going to get to the debate here. It starts at four o’clock this afternoon, Chris Matthews is the moderator of the debate, and he was — I don’t know, when did he say this? I guess this morning on MSNBC, he was on with Joe Scarborough on Scarborough’s show, and this is what he said about moderating the GOP debate tonight.
MATTHEWS: If somebody says I’m not independent it’s going to be very hard for me to bite my tongue, because for 20 years now I’ve paid the price of independence. I’ve been tough on everybody. I’ve taken it from the left-wing blogs and the right-wing blogs every night of my life for the last 20 years. I don’t mind them taking any shot at me tonight, but, if they accuse me of being partisan, I’ll go rip. It’s not about me. It’s about them, and who’s going to be the next president in these very difficult times.
RUSH: So he’s going to go rip if they accuse him of being partisan. I don’t know how many of you have seen the YouTube video of Matthews interviewed on his latest book on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. By the way, Air America has just started an atheist show, another brilliant programming decision from Air America. They actually have named a host to do an atheist week or atheist hour or atheist show or something. They are going for the base, damn right they are. Too much Christianity and religion on the radio elsewhere, they say, so now we need to really shore up our base by going for the atheist audience. Anyway, Matthews’ book I think is 98 on the Amazon list. I watched this interview, and Stewart just laughed at Chris Matthews over some of the life philosophies that are expressed in the book, Life’s a Campaign. Stewart said, ‘None of this is real. This is all phony.’ And he was laughing about it, and on tape, you see Matthews actually complaining, ‘This is the worst interview of my life. You don’t get it,’ and so forth. But the point is that Stewart was laughing at him.
Now, I think in this debate, everybody’s focusing on the fact this is Fred Thompson’s first debate in the Republican field. But it is a little strange. I think partly this is all about elevating the stature of Chris Matthews as an NBC personality, letting him moderate. But the idea that he is not partisan is absurd. He’s in the tank for Hillary Clinton. We don’t even need to chronicle this. The fact that he gets hit from the left and gets hit from the right does not mean he’s not partisan. Everybody gets hit from the left because they’re lunatics. They hit everybody. Hell, ABC hit Hillary Monday night on World News Tonight because of her vote on the Iran go-to-war resolution, going after their Revolutionary Guard. It was a story that was inspired by MoveOn.org. The left is out there attacking everybody. They’re unwound. So, anyway, I think this. If I were an advisor to any of these Republican candidates, what they have to be able to do tonight with Matthews is not attack him. Laugh at him because of this.
The base of the Republican Party, conservatives, and a lot of people, a lot of independents, so-called independents, moderates, know that something is really wrong with the media today. It is really not what it used to be. They’ve always been biased; they’ve always been partisan; but today it’s worse than it has ever been. The Republican candidates, all of them, need to rev up the base. The Republican base is not jazzed. They just aren’t jazzed. They’re not jazzed by anybody. They’re expressing their support in polls for this candidate or that, but there’s no jazz. What these guys have to realize is that Chris Matthews tonight as a moderator represents what’s gone wrong, what is terribly wrong with the media. By letting it be known on behalf of these candidates, if they make some comment, humorous or otherwise, that they understand what they’re up against with the media and what’s happened to the media, that Matthews represents it, they can go a long way to revving the base. Among many things, one of the main things that led to McCain’s precipitous fall from the inevitability of his own nomination as the Republican presidential candidate was that he went out and said the Drive-Bys were his base.
The Republican Party does not like people who sidle up and cozy up to the media. The Republican base considers the media to be part of the enemy that has to be defeated and overcome. Sitting there representing the Drive-By Media tonight that has to be defeated and overcome is Chris Matthews. So taking out after him, don’t accuse him as being a partisan with words, there are clever ways to do this, and if he does rip, even better. If one of them causes him to rip, there are going to be fireworks, but I’ll tell you, this is the kind of thing that will gin up the base. Now, I know that political consultants say, ‘Don’t go after the media, it’s horrible. If you start blaming media bias for your failures, you’ll decline.’ No, I’m not saying blame them for their failures or decline, attack them for what they’ve become. They’re as much an enemy to any Republican presidential nominee as the Democrat nominee is because they are on the same side as the Democrat nominee. They are in bed with Hillary Clinton or whoever, Barack, whoever ends up winning that nomination. That’s who they’re going to be battling. To pretend and to treat them with status that suggests that they are evenhanded, that they are uninterested in outcomes of this election, that they’re interested in fairness and objectivity is to ignore a salient enemy that they also face in the upcoming election.
RUSH: Clark in New York City, I’m glad you waited, sir. Welcome to the EIB Network.
CALLER: Rush, you’re the best.
RUSH: Well, thank you, sir.
CALLER: On the Chris Matthews choice for tonight, if the Democrats agree to have Rush Limbaugh moderate their next debate, I would think there would be something intriguing at play. But that’s not the case.
RUSH: Not just that, the Democrats won’t even go on Fox News.
CALLER: That’s right.
RUSH: But that’s not because they’re afraid of it. This is also the tactic: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. That’s just an effort to delegitimize Fox in the eyes of people, in the eyes of voters. They’re afraid to go there. I’ll take that back. They are afraid. But the tactic is based on isolating Fox as something illegitimate.
CALLER: Then the Republican Party must be tone deaf or dumb for picking Chris Matthews, who’s only going to embarrass them tonight.
RUSH: I don’t think it’s that they picked him. I think that they agreed to let MSNBC televise the debate, and MSNBC picks the moderator.
CALLER: Well, I’m sure that somebody has a say in who moderates.
RUSH: Well, I don’t know, but I don’t think the Republicans are going to go there anyway, unless it was somebody totally ridiculous. But, anyway, Matthews does have the aura as he’s been presented by NBC as a journalist, slash, commentator. Look, the guy is out there saying he’s not partisan. He wrote Jimmy Carter’s malaise speech in 1979 in which he blamed the American people for the malaise they were in. He worked as a legislative aide for Tip O’Neill when Tip O’Neill was the speaker of the House. For him to say he’s not a partisan is somewhat puzzling. But you think the Republicans deserve what they’re going to get because they’re allowing Matthews to be the moderator?
RUSH: See, I got a different view of it. I don’t think when you’re running for president you can be afraid of anybody. You cannot act like you’re afraid of anybody, particularly a person in the media who is well known to be what he is. The way to deal with this is with as much humor as you can, let the audience know that you know what they know, that the guy is a partisan, and the whole thing could be a setup, but beat the guy. Do it with optimism and have fun, go about it with good cheer, and so on. I’m telling you, folks, for one of these candidates this afternoon in this debate, which again starts at four o’clock, there is a gold mine waiting to be tapped out there, if they can somehow, one or all of these candidates, convey to the audience that they know they’re also running against the media as well as whoever else is up on the panel or the dais with them in this debate. It’s tricky because you can’t blame the media for being unfair to you. When you’re running for president, you cannot whine about anything. But these guys ought to know that. They also ought to have some empathy with those of us in their party and in their movement. We consider the opposition to be not just the Democrat Party, but the main component of what we call the Drive-By Media.