Ronan Farrow, considered the "boy wonder" of cable hosts by MSNBC executives, interviewed his colleague Chris Matthews on June 11 over the stunning primary defeat of Eric Cantor.
Farrow was shocked that the winner, David Brat, had dared to campaign among the tea party rabble, being the professor he is: "Is it rare to see that kind of brazen intellectualism, particularly in populist candidates like this?" Translation: How did he win among knuckle-dragging Virginia racists with that spiel?
In response, Matthews unleashed something almost as unexpected as the Cantor defeat. He came to the tea party's defense. "I don't think you can assume that the liberals are smarter than the conservative professors. I think that's crazy talk," he said.
Matthews then doubled down.
"(Brat) can handle any debate on this program or my program. So this looking down our noses at tea party people has got to stop. They have a message, they're as American as any liberal is, and they're really angry of the failure of the system."
What makes this so incredibly bizarre is that Matthews has been routinely, savagely assaulting the tea party for years. We cannot think of anyone in the press more vituperative than this man. It is another day in the office when Matthews sneers/dismisses/insults tea party conservatives, usually in personal terms, with cheap shots.
For example, just two days before the Brat remarks, he condemned Sen. Ted Cruz for being in the "hate wing" of the Texas Republican Party and dismissed Joni Ernst, the conservative U.S. Senate contender from Iowa, as a "hog castrator."
In April, he slammed people questioning the official Obamacare enrollment numbers -- including the question about how many "enrolled" people hadn't yet paid a premium. "What can you say about these guys besides they are health care enrollment truthers right now," Matthews insisted. "It's a new form of birtherism."
In March 2013, Matthews attacked the tea party as racist, xenophobic and homophobic, all in one breath: "Is it like that old dreamy nostalgia you get in the old movies 'Gone With The Wind'? Is it that kind of America they want to bring back or what? When there were no gays, where blacks were slaves, Mexicans were in Mexico. I mean, is this what they want?"
In 2012, he asked leftist writer David Corn, just flat out, "Why do tea party crackpots keep winning elections out in the country?"
In 2011, Matthews felt it was fair and accurate to compare the tea party to the terrorist-aligned Muslim Brotherhood as the Republicans competed before the primaries: "So the Muslim Brotherhood has a parallel role here with the tea party."
The same is true of lots of individual tea party heroes, from Rush Limbaugh to Sarah Palin to Michele Bachmann. Matthews looked forward to Limbaugh being shot: "at some point somebody's going to jam a CO2 pellet into his head and he's going to explode like a giant blimp."
Matthews asked Bachmann: "Are you hypnotized? Has someone put you under a trance tonight? That you give me the same answer no matter what question I put to you?" He cracked repeatedly that Palin wasn't ready for Alex Trebek. "It's unbelievable how little this woman knows! ... Don't put her on 'Jeopardy'!"
So it's understandable that callow Farrow would expect Matthews to unleash the typical tirade on Brat and the tea party instead of doing a flip and going on defense. At the end of this schizophrenic episode, he should have said, "Chris Matthews, meet Chris Matthews."
L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blogNewsBusters.org. To find out more about Brent Bozell III and Tim Graham, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page atwww.creators.com.