MSNBC host Chris Matthews appeared three times on Wednesday's Today
show to lionize Sen. Ted Kennedy, and twice he promoted Barack Obama as
the "last brother" of the Kennedy political dynasty. He tried to
clarify a little in his appearance in the 10am hour: "I don't mean
that in an ethnic sense or a black sense. I mean a brother of the
Kennedy tradition. And I think he's the new brother, not that last
Rush Limbaugh joked on Wednesday that he wouldn't be allowed by the media to use the word "brother" to describe Obama. During the 7am half-hour of Today, Matthews suggested Kennedy "took a while to grow up," but portrayed him as the great brother who ran for president not out of power lust, but to bring back the Jack-and-Bobby aura:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Roger Mudd asked him the best journalist question, perhaps of modern times, the hardball down the middle, not the curve ball, not the tricky one. "Why do you want to be president?"It took Ted Kennedy 70 words to get to the answer which was restoration. He just wanted to bring back what Bobby and Jack had given us. He wanted to be his brother's brother. And then he turned that torch over last year to Barack Obama.
And the great thing about the Kennedys is they always grew as a family. They tended to get better as they got older. Some families like the Long family of Louisiana, dissipated. This family got better. The Kennedy commitment to civil rights was almost accidental. It began because of history. '63 and Martin Luther King's march. By Bobby it became passion. By Teddy it became real. And then Teddy turns it over to the first African-American [president] says, "You got the ball." Amazing history. Barack is now the last brother. It's history.
ANN CURRY: That's a very interesting point to make.
MATTHEWS: It's history. And he was the great brother.
In the 10am hour, Matthews revised and extended those sappy remarks, to use the legislative parlance:
MATTHEWS: Ted Kennedy, last year, basically designated him [Barack Obama] the new brother and I don't mean that in an ethnic sense or a black sense. I mean a brother of the Kennedy tradition. And I think he's the new brother, not that last brother. And I think it's an interesting, I mean who wouldn't have liked to have had that torch handed to them? But with that torch comes a big responsibility. You gotta lead. And he's gonna have to lead the fight now. No more cheerleading from the sidelines. We need a quarterback in the field, if you want health care, eventually.
Earlier in the 10am hour, MSNBC anchor Tamron Hall revealed the
Kennedys and Martin Luther King were the civil rights heroes who had
pictures hung in her family's home, as anchor Hoda Kotb unfurled the
Kennedy achievement list:
HODA KOTB: He wrote 2500 bills and 300 of them became laws and he co-wrote 550 bills. When you think about what legacy he has left behind in terms of health care and children's rights, rights and things like that.
TAMRON HALL: Millions of people. I mean we, we talk about an icon and what is an icon? And today there are people who compare and contrast but that is so true of him. Ten presidents he served alongside. Ten presidents including his own brother. But apart from the politics of it all, to be able to be born in such wealth and say, it's about people.
HALL: It is about encouraging all of us, you and me. I mean this is, I grew up, obviously in the seventies and, and in my home there was Martin Luther King's picture and the Kennedys and that was apart of the civil rights influence, reaching beyond people you didn't grow up alongside but that you have influence on.
-Tim Graham is Director of Media Analysis at the Media Research Center.