During Tuesday night’s election coverage, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews suggested New Jersey Governor Chris Christie stood out because he hugged Barack Obama, in contrast to the many racist Republican voters who have a “physical rejection of him as African-American.”
In Matthews’ mind, any opposition to the President is due to racism on the right. Name almost any issue that President Obama has faced confrontation on, and the MSNBC host has cited racism as the root cause. The real reason for the shutdown? Racism! Opposition to the Affordable Care Act? Racism! Voting for Mitt Romney? Racism! The rise of the Tea Party? Racism!
The following is a countdown of the Top 20 Worst Chris Matthews Quotes Calling Obama Critics Racist:
20. Unlike Some Racist Republicans, Christie Doesn’t Have a ‘Physical Rejection’ of Obama
“[Chris] Christie is known for physical contact -- it seems so high school, you know -- physical contact with the President. We think of him not hugging or anything or they’re not, they’re not bromance material here. But they would actually walk together, been seen together. And then you have these terrible cases of people saying or somebody from South Carolina, ‘I was 10 feet from him the other day and it made me - from the President - it made me sick.’ Or ‘I told him to his face I can’t stand looking at you.’ Or ‘You lie!’ This almost physical rejection of him as an African-American, let’s be honest about it. Whereas Christie hugs the guy, politically. Do you remember Charlie Crist? He gets knocked out of the Republican Party for physical contact with this President. It sounds so primitive, but it is tribal. And these, you know the American system was to bring people together, not to break out into tribes. And I think the Republican Party is doing that. And Christie is not doing that. He’s not tribalist. He doesn’t play that game.”
— Chris Matthews discussing New Jersey GOP Governor Chris Christie’s re-election with Chris Hayes on MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes, November 5, 2013.
19. If You’re Anti-ObamaCare, You Must Be a Bigot
“What are the Tea Partiers really angry about? Health care reform, or the fact that it was an African American President and a woman Speaker of the House who pushed through major change?”
— MSNBC’s Chris Matthews at the top of Hardball, March 29, 2010.
18. Claiming Racism In Everything Republicans Say
“That cheap shot about ‘I don’t have a problem with my birth certificate’ was awful, and it is an embarrassment to your party to play that card. This stuff about getting rid of the work requirement for welfare is dishonest. Everyone has pointed out it’s dishonest and you are playing that little ethnic card there...You know what game you’re playing and everybody knows what game you’re playing. It’s a race card.”
— Hardball host Chris Matthews to Republican Party chairman Reince Preibus on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, August 27, 2012.
17. Any Scrutiny of Obama is Racism
“His whole life has been crystal clear, and clean as a whistle and transparent. We know his whole life, through all the great, excellent education he’s had, the good pro bono work he’s done through his life. He’s never been a money-grubber. He’s never doing anything wrong in his life — legally, ethically, whatever. His family is picture-perfect. The way he’s raised those daughters. Everything is clean as a whistle. And yet, they just refer to him as evil. They just refer to him as a liar. I’ve got to believe it’s ethnic with these people. They just got a problem with this guy being President. Is there any other evidence to justify why they keep calling him a bad man?”
— Host Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Hardball, June 5, 2013.
16. Not ‘Honest’ Enough to Admit Their Racism
“At least back in 1939, when Marian Anderson had to sing here, ‘My Country ’Tis of Thee’ rather than at the Constitution Hall, because — they said the reason was she was black. At least they were honest back then....[Today] you’ve got people talking about nullification of the law of the land [ObamaCare]. You got people talking impeachment like [Senator Tom] Coburn. You got Ted Cruz out there. They never say their problem with Obama is that he’s black, but look at the pattern....At least the Daughters of the American Revolution knew what they were saying and they said it out loud: ‘He’s black, she’s black, she can’t sing here.’ These guys today use all the techniques of nullification and talking about illegitimacy and accusing the President of being a crook, basically, for even being president, because he’s here illegally. And then they talk about impeaching him on grounds they can’t even come up with. At least in the old days they were honest about it. Today, they’re not.”
— Chris Matthews during MSNBC live coverage of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, August 28, 2013.
15. GOP Racial Code Words Worse Than Joe Biden’s ‘He’ll Put Ya’ll in Chains’ Attack
Host Chris Matthews: “Obviously it was reference to slavery, historically. But I think of all of the code they have used on the other side about food stamps and welfare and welfare queens and all, it seems to be that’s a negative reference to slavery and to black folk. Whereas Biden, maybe he is trying too hard to get the support of black people, but he’s not using negative slurs in doing it. He is making a historic reference, he may not have been right to do. But it certainly wasn’t malignant like the other stuff we get. That’s my view. What’s yours?”
Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Cynthia Tucker: “Well, not only was it not malignant, Chris, I’m not even sure it had any, anything to do with race.”
— MSNBC’s Hardball, August 15, 2012.
14. Anti-ObamaCare Protesters: Just Racists
Wall Street Journal’s Steve Moore: “This is still a pretty conservative country and people are upset about the policies in Washington and they don’t think the politicians are listening.”
Chris Matthews: “Okay, I think, I think some of the people are upset because we have a black President.”
— Talking about the town hall protests on MSNBC’s Hardball, August 11, 2009.
13. I’m Confused - I Thought All Conservatives Were Racists
“How do you figure your state out? It’s pretty conservative obviously. It’s Strom Thurmond country in many ways and, and it has people like [Senator Jim] DeMint pretty far over, and then people like Lindsey Graham who are sort of regular conservatives. But then you nominated, your party has nominated an Indian-American woman, Nikki Haley - obviously an attractive candidate, she knows how to present herself, obviously - but what’s that about? Is that just an interesting little aspect? ‘It’s okay to be Indian-American, but we got a problem with this black President?’ What’s that about?”
— MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews to South Carolina Republican Representative Bob Inglis, July 14, 2010.
12. Are Republicans Still Scared of Black People?
Host Chris Matthews: “One thing I notice about black people at different conventions. You go to a Democratic convention with Donna [Edwards] and black folk are hanging together and having a good time. They’re smiling, they’re enjoying themselves. They feel very much at home. You go to a Republican event, you get a feeling that you are all told, ‘Individually now, don’t bunch up. Don’t, don’t, don’t get together. Don’t get together, don’t crowd, you’ll scare these people.’ Is that true in the Republican Party? Is that still true in your party? Did you fear that if you got together with some other African-Americans, these white guys might get scared of you?”
Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele: “No! What are you talking about?!”
— MSNBC’s Hardball, January 17, 2011.
11. Matthews: ‘Is Sarah Palin a Poster Girl for Racism?’
CHRIS MATTHEWS: I’ve never seen a stronger column in the newspapers than what I read this morning when I got up. And the reason I’m so glad Kathleen [Parker] is joining us, Joan, is that she wrote this column basically backing up Senator George Voinovich of Ohio, saying the Republican party, which has done pretty well over the last half century, has been basically getting destroyed by the right wingers in the South. And we’ve talked a lot about the obsession with this birth movement down in, birther thing down in the South and all the rest of the ethnic potential here. Here`s a quote that really grabbed me: “That same rage was on display again in the fall of 2008, but this time the frenzy was stimulated by a pretty gal with a mocking little wink. Sarah Palin may not have realized what she was doing. But southerners, weaned on Harper Lee, heard the dog whistle.” Kathleen, “heard the dog whistle.” Is Sarah Palin a poster girl for racism? Yes or no?
MATTHEWS: Is she connecting the dots, Joan [Walsh], among Henry Louis Gates, the birther movement, the Sotomayor testimony and confirmation questioning, so tribalistic? There’s no doubt about it. All that stuff has become very tribalistic, something we thought we`d begun to crack in this country. Is Sarah the dog whistle that says, yeah, that`s what it’s about?
MATTHEWS: How about Palin? Let’s talk about Palin. Palin has attacked New York, Washington and Los Angeles. She goes after the government, after the media, after Hollywood.
KATHLEEN PARKER, syndicated columnist: Yes.
MATTHEWS: Anything that’s on the coast is evil to her. She’s an Alaskan who, I bet you any money, is going to spend most of her time down in the middle parts of the country, the rural white parts. She’s going to find those cul de sacs of whitedom, and exploit the hell out of them, right?
— Exchange aired on MSNBC’s Hardball, August 5, 2009.
10. Voter ID Laws = Racist Apartheid Laws
“It does look like it’s almost like South Africa to this extent: You have a white — what’s the word — feeble minority. It’s losing its majority status. And it says, the Republican Party, ‘We can only get so many white votes. So, we got to reduce the votes of others.’ It does look that way. Only the — maybe you’re non-partisan, but only Republicans have pushed this in these 31 states. No Democratic legislature. You gotta look at the pattern here. You talk about profiling. I’m sorry, Republicans do this stuff.”
— Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Hardball, July 29, 2013 talking about laws requiring voters to show identification. In fact, Democratically-controlled Rhode Island passed a voter ID law in 2011.
9. Embracing the Constitution Makes You Pro-Slaveholder
Clip of Michele Bachmann: “We have to recapture the Founders’ vision of a constitutionally conservative government if we are to secure the promise for the future."
Host Chris Matthews to Michael Steele: “What is this, Michael? The Protestant Reformation? That somehow we're going back to the purity of the original Christian church? We’re going back to the original perfection of slaveholders and how perfect they were and government is the enemy. She speaks pure Tea Party lingo.”
— MSNBC’s Hardball, June 27, 2011.
8. Scandals Just Fuel for ‘Racist’ Conservative ‘Haters’
“The problem is there are people in this country — maybe 10%, I don’t know what the number, maybe 20% on a bad day — who want this President to have an asterisk next to his name in the history books, that he really wasn’t President....They can’t stand the idea that he is President, and a piece of it is racism. Not that somebody in one racial group doesn’t like somebody in another racial group. So what? It is the sense that the white race must rule. That’s what racism is. And they can’t stand the idea that a man who is not white is President.”
— Chris Matthews appearing as a guest on MSNBC’s PoliticsNation, May 15.
7. Racist Republican Voters Hate Obama More Than They Hate Al Qaeda
“They hate Obama. They want him out of the White House more than they want to destroy al Qaeda. Their number one enemy in the world right now, on the right, is their hatred — hatred for Obama. We can go into that about the white working class in the South, and looking at these numbers we’re getting in the last couple days about racial hatred in many cases. This isn’t about being a better president. They want to get rid of this president. That’s their number one goal and they’re willing to let Romney go to the hard center, even if it’s to the left on issues, as long as they get rid of this guy.”
— Chris Matthews during MSNBC’s post-debate coverage, October 22, 2012.
6. Does the Right Still ‘Count Blacks as Three-Fifths?’
“And what the right, that small part of the Republican Party, maybe a third of it, was willing to do, was to show no respect for who’s president, for the voter who elected him and they have this weird “we” they refer to. We, the American people. Why does a group of people that always loses elections or tends to do lately, why do they call themselves American people because -- do they still count blacks as three-fifths? Three-fifths of a vote? Is that the way they count it? Is that the way the count it?”
— Chris Matthews discussing reasons for the shutdown on MSNBC’s Now with Alex Wagner, October 17, 2013.
5. Would Rick Perry Have Been for Integration? I Don’t Think So!
“Do you think Rick Perry would be for that? Do you think he’d be cheering for Ike today if he brought the troops in to desegregate the schools in Little Rock? I don't think so!...I compared him to Bull Connor with a smile yesterday. Maybe that was too far, but I’m still learning about this guy....He talks about secession. He talks about states’ rights. He’s got all the idiom of the guys who hate civil rights.”
— Matthews on the August 17, 2011 Hardball.
4. Only a Racist Would Oppose ‘Perfect’ Obama
“I look at Obama as a perfect American. I don’t mean politically. We can disagree left and right on him. You can argue about the drones. Argue about the fiscal policy, all that stuff. But as a citizen. The guy went to school, he never broke a law. He did everything right. He raised a wonderful family. He’s a good husband, a good father. My God I don’t think he’s ever gotten a speeding ticket. The guy does everything right and these right-wingers — and he’s really been pretty moderate on guns until the horror of Newtown — and I don’t know what they’re so afraid of, except that he happens to be black.”
— Host Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Hardball, March 6, 2013.
3. Matthews: Tea Party Protestors Remind Me of Racists Who Blocked ‘57 Little Rock High School Integration
JOHN HEILEMANN, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: And I’ll tell you what that picture looks like to me. You know it looks to me, I mean it has this resonance of the, of the Deep South, during the civil rights movement.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: You mean when the young women were being integrated.
HEILEMANN: Right and you know this African-American congressman walking along here next here to an all white crowd...
MATTHEWS: I mean you gotta wonder about the ethnic piece though.
HEILEMANN: ...spitting on the guy. It seems, it’s very, it’s very retrograde.
MATTHEWS: Look at this guy! He won’t even quit yelling, either. He’s just-
HEILEMANN: It looks like a scene from a different generation. It looks like a scene, not, it’s not what you think America is supposed to look like in 2010.
MATTHEWS: You know I just saw one of those pictures the other day, a woman down in Little Rock, Chris, Little Rock back in ‘57 when they were integrating Little Rock Central High School with that wicked look of anger. I mean contorted face. Look at this guy! He won’t stop. And he knows, this is where the chicken aspect of this is. He knows that guy can’t do anything about it because he’s a public figure. He knows, Chris, that, that Congressman has to just take it.
— Exchange aired on MSNBC’s Hardball, March 30, 2010.
2. ‘Moderate’ Mitt Now a ‘Hard Right, Full Moon Conservative’ Appealing to ‘Grand Wizard Crowd’
Host Chris Matthews: “How does this guy [Mitt Romney] go from hard right, severely conservative, to this new regular mainstream character he’s portraying himself as?...He ran as a full mooner, Michael. You know, he was saying ‘There’s no such thing as science.’... How can he go from Flat Earth, ‘I don’t believe in evolution,’ to all of a sudden I’m teaching biology?... It certainly was in the Grand Wizard crowd over there, okay?”
Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele: “Wait, I resent that! No. Come on, what is this ‘Grand Wizard’ nonsense? Are you saying that we’re Ku Klux Klan?”
Matthews: “Okay, I’m just saying, the far right party.”
Steele: “Give me a break! Don’t go there with me on that.”
— MSNBC’s Hardball, April 23, 2012.
1. Does Intolerant Tea Party Want to Enslave Blacks?
“What does your study tell you about the nature of the racial piece here of the Tea Party?...Is it sort of a resumption of the Old South, of the way things were before the Civil War, for example?...Is it like that old dreamy nostalgia you get in the old movies, you know what I mean? Gone With the Wind? Is it that kind of America they want to bring back or what? When they don't, where there were no gays, where blacks were slaves, where Mexicans were in Mexico? I mean, is this what they want?”
— Chris Matthews to author Christopher Parker on MSNBC’s Hardball, March 20, 2013.
— Geoffrey Dickens is Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center. Follow Geoffrey Dickens on Twitter.