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Softball with Chris Matthews By: Ronald Radosh
Pajamas Media | Friday, December 12, 2008


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Bill Ayers' resurrection tour, like Bob Dylan’s neverending tour, goes on and on. And so must comments about those in the media who continue to buy into the purpose of his reissued book and his current campaign.

The other night he appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews. One can hardly wait for Matthews to leave MSNBC and run for the Senate. Or, he should at least change the name of his program to “Softball with Chris Matthews.” Because, as the video of his program shows, Matthews allowed Ayers to get away with everything, and to use Ayers’ 10 minutes of air time to repeat his standard litany of lies over and over.

Matthews obviously has not done his homework. I don’t expect that he would have read any of my numerous blogs about Ayers, or even my published letter in The New York Times, but I thought he might have read Katha Pollitt’s devastating article in The Nation website that lets Ayers have it, no holds barred. She summarizes Ayers’ apologia, and tears it apart. As she writes; “Spectacular violence, and creating fear of it, was the point.”

Calling Ayers “Thuggish, vainglorious” and “egomaniacal” is more accurate than Matthews’ response, which is that after listening to him, declaring that he is a “changed man” and not the person who was in The Weather Underground. Matthews allowed Ayers to repeat that he did not advocate or praise bombings in his memoir; that he was simply part of a broad anti-war coalition that was correct about everything, and like Matthews, wants a new foreign policy so America does not come off as a superior nation over others. Just your average standard left/liberal Democrat- like Matthews.

So Chris Matthews gets my award for the dumbest newsman of the day. Where are the giants of yesteryear when we need them? As superficial as some of them were, I doubt whether they would have let Bill Ayers walk all over them.

Matthews could take some lessons from Charles Lane, whose recent article in the Washington Post tackles Ayers directly. He knows what Matthews ignores, that one might buy Ayers’ fables, “but not if they know the actual history - as opposed by Ayers’s selective version.” Lane and I disagree on one thing: he evidently believes Ayers when he told Lane “that he did not know about the nail bomb in advance.” Chuck, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you - are you in a mood to buy for the holidays?

But Lane knows that Ayers is not saying anything new; but has been “singing this tune for years.” And he, unlike many others, know that his real goal was — and is today, as he said in his interview in Revolution a scant two years ago, to build a mass movement to bring Communism to America. As Lane puts it: “His crazy means were dictating even crazier ends.”

And so, Chris Matthews, perhaps you read Lane's piece, and feel a bit of shame.


Ronald Radosh, Prof. Emeritus of History at the City University of New York, is an Adjunct Fellow at the Hudson Institute.


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