The loud dumb fellow got it wrong. His pals were too timid to tell him:
How Hardball’s like Laurel and Hardy: On Monday, ABC News had no idea how marginal tax rates actually work (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/4/09).
Last night, Chris Matthews loudly ran off the rails concerning those troubling “earmarks.”
The excitable host conducted his chat with pundits Heileman and Cillizza. Before we see what Matthews said, let’s review the basic facts: The federal spending bill in question totals $410 billion. Of that, the “earmarks” total $7.7 billion. The “earmarks” thus comprise less than 1.9 percent of the total package. (Beyond that, we’ve seen no one try to explain why these provisions are “wasteful.”)
The guest pundits did make several attempts to calm Matthews as he thundered about all the “pork” and “crap” in the bill. But as usual, his thunder about Obama’s failure to deal with this “pork-barrel spending” prevailed. By the way: How well did Matthews know his facts? Eventually, it came to this. We use the Nexis transcript:
HEILEMANN (3/4/09): Well, look, but, Chris, this is, this is—this stuff is such small potatoes compared to the stuff that is on the president’s agenda to actually—
MATTHEWS: More than—
MATTHEWS: —410 billion dollars!
HEILEMANN: —to actually fix the economy.
MATTHEWS: Four hundred and 10 billion dollars!
HEILEMANN: That’s, that’s—that’s half of the original TARP, as you know, and probably about a third or a quarter of what we’re eventually going to put in—
MATTHEWS: This is actually government spending, by the way. This isn’t loan guarantees.
Trust us. Anyone who watched this segment would have thought that the bill in question involved $410 billion in “earmarks.” And of course, no one clarified what Matthews said. The actual worth of the “earmarks—$7.7 billion—was never mentioned. No one made the slightest attempt to state the basic facts. (To find the full transcript, click here.)
We’ll guess that Heileman and/or Cillizza knew the actual figures involved here. But uh-oh! From watching Matthews through the years, we’ll guess that he probably didn’t. At any rate, one thing is certain: Citizens who watched this program were never exposed to the actual facts. The guest pundits could have corrected or clarified what Matthews said. But darlings! It just isn’t done!
Hardball viewers came away with bogus facts in their noggins again.
But then, Hardball is often like Laurel and Hardy. The loud dumb one is always in charge. The others know that their pal has it wrong—but they’re too timid to tell him.
Laurel and Hardy played this for laughs, comically sketching the human condition. The loud dumb one was always in charge! Today, it’s the shape of your “press corps.”