Chris Matthews flunks Journalism 101

O’Reilly: “So, do you think President Obama’s a socialist?”

Gingrich: “Sure. Of course he is. ... I don’t think that President Obama has met a government program he didn’t love and didn’t want to dramatically expand.”

Matthews then read the Webster’s Dictionary definition of “socialist” — “someone who advocates the ownership and operation of the means of production and distribution by society or the community, rather than by private individuals, with all members of society or the community sharing in the work and the product.”

“So, by that definition,” Matthews concluded, “Barack Obama wants the government to own and run the American economy. If you believe that, you believe Newt Gingrich.”

End of story. Matthews moved on to a lighter item about Bill Clinton’s happiness at his daughter’s upcoming wedding.

I happened to have watched both “Hardball” on Tuesday and “O’Reilly” on Monday and recognized Matthews’s cut-and-paste job. His truncated clip oversimplified the nearly 1,200-word exchange between O’Reilly and Gingrich.

“But I do believe,” Gingrich told O’Reilly, that “[Obama] is ... exactly in the tradition of the French Socialists or the Italian Socialists or the German Socialists. I think he'd have been very comfortable in the Social Democratic party in Germany. I think he would have been very comfortable in the pre-Tony Blair Labor Party in Great Britain. I think he represents a strain of left-wing big government: ‘Government is smart. You're stupid. Government should decide everything. You're not capable of it.’ ”

Gingrich noted later in the exchange, “You had private businesses in Germany under the Social Democratic Party, in Great Britain under the Labor Party, in France under the Socialists, in Italy under the Socialists. It's a mixed economy. But if you're asking the question, ‘Does [Obama] think the overwhelming dominance should be government, and does he think government is smarter than the rest of us?’ the answer's yes.”

Matthews has enough ammunition to use against Gingrich — a paid Fox News “analyst” — and Fox News hosts such as O’Reilly or Sean Hannity or Glenn Beck. He doesn’t need to engage in cheap tricks to hit his targets.

My guess is that few people noticed because if you agree with the Democrats you watch MSNBC, and if you agree with the Republicans you watch Fox.

I often watch both, and then I take my dog out for a long walk, just to try to regain some balance.

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