Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Calling out Chris Matthews for his Attacks on Steven Chu

I was half listening to Chris Matthews on Hardball last night, but heard yet another snipe from Matthews' about Energy Secretary's Steven Chu's Nobel Prize.   This must have been the 6th or 7th time I've heard Matthews wane sarcastic about Chu's Nobel Prize in physics, and since I don't watch every minute of Hardball every day it's on, I'm sure there have been many more jibes of this sort from Matthews.

The substance of Matthews' complaint is that a Nobel Prize in physics provides no comfort that its recipient would know what to do about the catastrophic BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.   There is no doubt that David Alexrod and others in the Obama administration have mentioned Chu's Nobel laureate as a reassuring factor in our government's being up to the task of containing the spill, which it clearly has not been to anyone's satisfaction as of yet.  But in Matthews' recurrent slams, Chu's Nobel Prize has been distorted into a deficit, as if the very fact the Steven Chu won the Nobel Prize makes him not competent to lead and advise Obama in how to combat the oil spill.   And that point is not only logically ridiculous, but indicative of a more widespread contempt for academe, which has also surfaced in attacks on Obama for being too professorial in his approach to the oil spill, whatever exactly that means.

In Matthews' case, his attack on Chu is especially egregious.   Unlike his MSNBC colleague Rachel Maddow, who not only interviewed Chu in a respectful yet critical way, and who has provided powerful on the scene reports from places ravaged by the oil spill, Matthews has done nothing about the oil spill other than his high horse bombastic analyses.   This may play well in Matthews' head and to people who have problems with awards given to pathbreaking scientists, but it does nothing to speed the containment and cleanup in the Gulf, and protect its shores from the worst affronts of petroleum.

PS - It's not often that Gawker and I focus on the same things, but here's a similar, well-founded complaint about Matthews re: Chu, in yesterday's Gawker.
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