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Even Chris Matthews doesn’t listen to Chris Matthews. [edited]

(Via The Corner) Indeed, Mr. Barone [OOPS! York]: we knew that this was coming. Talking head Chris Matthews was instructed to take umbrage at Rush Limbaugh’s use of the term ‘regime’ to refer to this administration:

“…The use of the word ‘regime’ in American political parlance is unacceptable, and someone should tell the walrus [Limbaugh] to stop using it.”

Matthews didn’t stop there. “I never heard the word ‘regime,’ before, have you?” he said to NBC’s Chuck Todd. “I don’t even think Joe McCarthy ever called this government a ‘regime.’”

[snip of numerous examples of the use of the phrase 'Bush regime' in news reporting]

Finally — you knew this was coming — on June 14, 2002, Chris Matthews himself introduced a panel discussion about a letter signed by many prominent leftists condemning the Bush administration’s conduct of the war on terror. “Let’s go to the Reverend Al Sharpton,” Matthews said. “Reverend Sharpton, what do you make of this letter and this panoply of the left condemning the Bush regime?”

Oops. Perhaps Joe McCarthy never called the U.S. government a regime, but Chris Matthews did. And a lot of other people did, too. So now we are supposed to believe him when he expresses disgust at Rush Limbaugh doing the same?

Naturally, it is not the fault of the talking head that it does not recall being fed lines to repeat about the ‘Bush regime.’ It is not the job of the talking head to remember what it is given to read; its job is to instead repeat the lines that real people have written, and to do so in a reasonably engaging and interesting manner. The talking head is not expected to think for itself, and is in fact discouraged from doing so. Thinking may interfere with its purpose, the complexities of which are likewise not the talking head’s concern.

That being said, there are a lot of people out there who apparently can’t get it through their skulls that Western civilization has finally licked the non scriptus, non est* problem. It’s all written down now, and usually in an easily-accessible location; in fact, it’s increasingly all being filmed now.  Couple that with this culture’s taboo against hypocrisy, and you get awkward situations like this.  The only solution is to not assume that things said years and years ago have faded away into the electronic aether, and plan accordingly.

Moe Lane

*Freely translated, it means “If there’s no paper trail, it didn’t happen.”  This cultural rule of thumb was created before the invention of the printing press, cheap paper, photographic film, electric telephone, electronic data storage, and distributed computer networks; but the (slightly cynical) assumptions remain.

Crossposted to Moe Lane.

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