Thursday, January 29, 2009

Chris Matthews Should Have Thrown Dick Armey Off the Show

Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey's sexist attack on Salon editor Joan Walsh on MSNBC's Hardball last night - telling her, in response to her apt critique of Republican intransigence in responding to the economic crisis, that "I'm so damn glad you can never be my wife because I surely wouldn't have to listen to that prattle from you" - has been well lambasted all over the Web, along with plaudits for New York Times reporter Bob Herbert, who, appearing on the next Hardball segment, said Armey owed Walsh and Hardball viewers an apology (see video clips below).

One aspect of this Republican outburst which has not received enough attention, however, is Hardball host Chris Matthews' mild response. He did say that what Joan Walsh said was "not prattle," and, in the segment after Bob Herbert's, that Armey "went way overboard going after Joan" - but where was the outrage, the shouting down of jackasses by Chris Matthews, that has become one of the admirable hallmarks of his show?

Why didn't Matthews interrupt Armey, talk over him, and throw him off the show?

Perhaps he's a bit tone deaf to sexism, or maybe is so used to such trash-talk from some Republicans that he doesn't find it so outrageous. It is true, at least in my experience, that when you make a logical point that makes some Republicans uncomfortable, they respond with a personal attack. I noticed this the very first time I was on O'Reilly's Factor, and he started riffing on his amazement that someone with my views could be a professor at Fordham University (I was actually happy to hear this, because it gave the school good publicity).

But ubiquity of bad behavior is no reason to continue accept it. Matthews should have shown Armey to the door last night. I hope he makes up for not doing that by denouncing Armey in much stronger terms, tonight.

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