One of the names being mentioned as a possible replacement for Tim Russert on “Meet the Press” is “Hardball” host Chris Matthews. Matthews is one of the biggest horse’s patooties on television, if not the biggest, a man so enamored of his own grating voice that he can barely stop talking long enough to let a guest get a word in.
Much like Charlie Rose, only worse, Matthews is master of the run-on question. He goes on and on, and just when a guest detects Matthews is about to take a breath and tries to jump in with an answer, Matthews overrides the poor sap and keeps on going. One wonders why he even bothers to have guests on the show when he seems quite content to both ask and answer the questions. He will often interrupt a guest part way through an answer that might have imparted an interesting opinion or piece of information to the viewer. But the viewer is not as important as Matthews’ self-glorification.
Matthews has also descended to self-parody, bursting out with that ridiculous “Hah” laugh, as if he is trying to live up to the imitation of him on “Saturday Night Live.” Commentator as clown.
Matthews as host of “Meet the Press” would be a welcome gift to competing Sunday morning talk shows that had no chance in the ratings battle while Russert was doing the program. “Meet the Press” viewers would likely abandon the show in droves, replused by the giant ego of one of the most obnoxious people on television. Matthews’ MSNBC colleague Keith Olbermann comes close, but I find it hard to criticize Olbermann as he continues to display signs of mental illness. One of these nights he’s going to completely lose it on camera. Call it straight reporting replaced by straightjacket reporting.
Under Russert, “Meet the Press” was about the guests. Under Matthews, it would be about Matthews. Under Russert, you could never be sure what the host’s opinion was. Under Matthews, the host’s opinion would be all that matters.
I doubt that NBC would be so foolish as to let this ego-obsessed jerk take over one of its most beloved programs. But the fact he is even being mentioned as a possibility is scary.
One thing about Russert. I can see him in Heaven, interviewing God. He’s saying, “Now God, back in 47 AD here is what you said. Let’s put it up on the screen.”
God bless you Tim. If NBC really reveres your memory it will choose a replacement who will at least try to follow in your tradition.
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