06-23-matthews-inside.jpgWell what do we have here:

After praising the drafters of the First Amendment for allowing him to make a living, [Chris Matthews] outlined what he said was the fundamental difference between the Bush and Clinton administrations.

The Clinton camp, he said, never put pressure on his bosses to silence him.

“Not so this crowd,” he added, explaining that Bush White House officials — especially those from Vice President Cheney‘s office — called MSNBC brass to complain about the content of his show and attempted to influence its editorial content. “They will not silence me!” Matthews declared.

“They’ve finally been caught in their criminality,” Matthews continued, although he did not specify the exact criminal behavior to which he referred. He then drew an obvious Bush-Nixon parallel by saying, “Spiro Agnew was not an American hero.”

Matthews left the throng of Washington A-listers with a parting shot at Cheney: “God help us if we had Cheney during the Cuban missile crisis. We’d all be under a parking lot.”

I understand the knee-jerk reaction is to say “what took you so long” but the fact of the matter is that it’s going to be awfully difficult to unravel this situation unless journalists start speaking up about the strong-arm tactics that have been used on them, fostering Paul Krugman’s climate of “asymmetrical intimidation” (where no penalty is paid for ridiculing Democrats but you get your ass handed to you for saying anything untoward about the GOP). I also think it took more guts, not less to say it in front of the Pale & Male Club who have been the ones engaging in this charming little game that has landed us in the middle of such a toxic journalistic climate.

Of course there will be times when it looks like people are just trying to catch the next wave, but Matthews actually did speak out at the time and told Joe Wilson that Karl Rove had said his wife was “fair game.” I really do think he should be applauded for speaking out here. Hopefully others will follow suit.

Oh and some names would be nice….