I am one of those who welcomes the departure of Chris Matthews last night from Hardball, the pugilistic political commentary show that he founded 2 decades ago. He was a dinosaur whose departure was long overdue.
Why do I say this? Certainly not for the public reasons touted for his departure. The public reasons cited in the mainstream media included sexist behavior in his dealings with women on multiple occasions, and weighing in too heavily, with his thumb on the scale, in political races---with sometimes outrageous, over-the-top, partisan commentary. He was much more into inveighing with strong political opinions than he was into pure journalism. His act on this score had worn thin recently, with his strong and open opposition to the Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren campaigns.
Furthermore, he was an overly loud, rude interrupter who would often shout at, and brazenly interrupt, his interview subjects when they were expressing opinions he did not like. He would routinely cut off interview subjects and not allow them to fully answer his questions when they began to provide answers that were not in line with his opinions; he would then often answer his own interview question himself (with the answer he wanted to hear)!
But these behaviors are not the main reason I applaud his departure. My reason involves his repeatedly stated, aggressive position on the JFK assassination; his position on the Kennedy assassination was absurdly pro-Warren Commission, and in total denial of the established fact that we experienced a coup in this country in 1963, with the assassination of John F. Kennedy. This denial of a U.S. government cover-up, and denial that America experienced a coup in 1963, was in opposition to the enormous body of facts unearthed by the serious work of three generations of independent citizen-researchers beginning in 1964, and was in opposition to the official conclusion of the HSCA in 1979---that JFK was likely killed as the result of a conspiracy. [There are many critics of various aspects of the HSCA investigation---and I am among them---but Matthews never acknowledged the HSCA's official, overall conclusion, and would only tout the Warren Commission's line that JFK was assassinated by a lone nut, acting alone.]
The big question remains: "Did Chris Matthews simply have a huge personal and political blind spot with regard to the overwhelming pro-conspiracy evidence in the death of JFK; OR just perhaps, did he always know better, and was he willingly acting as a shill for the national security establishment, in his repeated support for the Warren Commission's unsupportable conclusions?" The latter suggestion is not absurd and without foundation; just study the files on the CIA's Operation Mockingbird, its subornation of hundreds of journalists both overseas and in the United States, first exposed by journalist Carl Bernstein circa 1978. Then CIA-Director George H.W. Bush, when forced by the evidence to admit the existence of Operation Mockingbird, declared to Congress at the time that the CIA would not engage in the recruitment of the media anymore. If you believe that recruitment of the media by the CIA ended following 1978, I have a bridge to sell you in the Gobi Desert.
One the one hand, Chris Matthews' love of American Democracy (or rather, the mythology of American Democracy---what we want to believe about ourselves) and the American Constitution was such that he didn't seem capable of believing that the United States could be as rotten internally as it would have to have been for JFK to have been assassinated by a conspiracy in 1963, and for the U.S. Govt. to cover it up such that everyone involved got off Scott Free. He seemed incapable of believing that America was that flawed, and just possibly, his pro-Warren Commission stance was a natural blind spot.
On the other hand, Matthews is no dummy, and no matter what you think of his opinionated partisanship, most of the time (when I try to come to grips with his behavior re: the JFK matter) I think he must have been fully aware, for decades, of the massive evidence that exists for a conspiracy in the assassination of JFK, and a USG coverup of what really happened in 1963. Ultimately, 20 or 30 or 50 years after his eventual passing, declassified files may reveal that with regard to the JFK assassination, Matthews has been a USG shill all along---simply a continuation of Operation Mockingbird, under a different name. Matthews' own former boss, Congressman and Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill [Matthews was his Chief of Staff] quoted Kennedy aides Kenny O'Donnell and Dave Powers in his book, Man of the House, as saying that at least 2 shots came from the grassy knoll area in Dealey Plaza during the assassination---in fact, Kenny O'Donnell actually told O'Neill that the FBI had ordered him to lie about that. I personally witnessed Chris Matthews shout down one of his interview guests when that guest tried to bring up what his former boss, Tip O'Neill, wrote in his book; that guest was simply not allowed to speak and discuss those facts. Matthews knew where his guest was going and cut him off before he could even effectively launch into the story. I also witnessed Chris Matthews cut off former Secret Service agent Clint Hill circa 2013 (the 50th anniversary of the assassination) when Hill began describing JFK's head wound---which could only be interpreted as an exit wound the in rear of his head (thus implying a fatal shot from the front, or right-front). After cutting off Hill's wound description, Matthews blurted out what was clearly a pre-staged question: "So how many shots were fired, and from what direction?" For the first time in his life, Clint Hill responded: "Three shots, all from behind." That was the first time Clint Hill had ever said that, and it was clearly pre-arranged with Chris Matthews before the interview began. No doubt the Secret Service, the MSNBC power structure, and the national security establishment, were happy with that response.
So, no matter what the reasons for Chris Matthews' pro-Warren Commission propaganda, and his debunking of the serious work of citizen-researchers, it is good that he has lost his principal platform for spreading the screed that JFK and RFK assassination researchers are all "whackos" peddling "crazy conspiracy theories." He can no longer do that on national television every November, and for that we should be grateful. I certainly am.
Now we need to continue to work to stop MSNBC's Rachael Maddow from doing the same thing. She is more than willing to discuss (and meticulously document) conspiracies (including Russian meddling in U.S. elections and an American President's illegal and inappropriate behavior vis-a-vis our foreign policy with Ukraine)---just not domestic conspiracies to kill American political leaders and then USG cover-ups of those crimes. Ultimately, the motivation behind the stonewalling and denial of commentators like Chris Matthews and Rachael Maddow with regard to conspiracies to kill American political leaders may simply be to stop the erosion of confidence in American institutions; of course, that is a self-defeating effort, since the more that obvious facts and patterns in the evidence are denied, and unsupportable political conclusions are endorsed, the more the erosion of confidence in American institutions accelerates. END