tv The Chris Matthews Show NBC June 17, 2012 10:00am-10:30am EDT
>> this is "the chris matthews show." [captioning made possible by nbc universal] chris: the empire strikes back. the great result of watergate was that it prompted big money out of politics. four decade later, oceans of cash are flooding back in. all but totally illegal because of the supreme court's decision. it's become a force in the romney-obama race. will we ever see the last of this? who do you honor? did richard nixon help create today's climate where all politicians are suspect, none
earn our deep respect. and finally, a change of fortune. within the space of two weeks, the conventional wisdom has swung right ward. mitt romney's odds are now drastically improved. is this for real. with us, the "the huffington post," howard fineman, the "the christian science monitor"'s liz marlantes, the "washington post"'s david ignatius and nbc news' kelly o'donnell. few could have seen the fallout of watergate would infect the presidential election of 2012. first, when it comes to the oceans of outside money we see in this campaign. follow the money was the watergate mantra. listen to deep throat's vice, here play bid robert redford. >> you tell me what you know and i'll confirm. i'll keep you in the right direction if i can, but that's
all. just follow the money. chris: well, money will be a huge factor this year now that the supreme court's ruling in citizens united took down all the post-watergate limits. the culture of investigations by the government, by the opposing campaign and the press. the adversarial relationship between the press and richard nixon was pal paable. >> i wonder if you could share with us your thoughts. tell us what goes through your mind when you hear people who love this country and people wlobble in -- who believe in you say reluctantly that perhaps you should resign or be impeached? >> well, i'm glad we don't take the rote of this room. chris: a third watergate legacy, the distrust of politicians.
here was david brinkley reporting it back then. >> two college professors asked people which proffings and occupations they trusted the most and the least. the results are interesting and here they are. doctors came in first as the most trusted. 19th and next to last, politicians. 20th and last, used car salesmen. chris: wow. you know, brinkley used to write his texts, his scripts underlining those words he would punch. let's talk about today in politics. nixon may have been the best friend that the haters of government ever had. he gave them a face nor their anger against government. >> we had an era before nixon where people believed in government out of necessity. world war ii, bringing us out of depression and so forth. vietnam, watergate broke that consensus. watergate especially because we saw a president who seemed to honor ruthlessness.
chris: kelly, that spirit of mistrust. who trusts congress? i've never seen numbers like this, down in the low double digits of support. >> and the awareness of that on capitol hill is so pervasive. it is a legacy of watergate i see all the time. where you get a different person in politics, they certainly respond differently. i think they look at all reporters as a moment of gotcha waiting to happen instead of trying to get facts out. there is a wild spread mistrust not only towards those who are elected but toward many elected officials in what might happen to them. chris: so if they see kelly o'donnell or other reporters waiting in the hall, they don't say oh, great, i get to talk to her. >> we now have a technical world of communication that puts them in instant jeopardy. part of the story of watergate
was the thorough, plodding, careful work that went on a long time. that story was in the works so far ahead of when the real cat cliss mick moment happened. so the peril is instant main -- in-- instant contain use. chris: the whole thing of follow is money, it's so true. we thought we'd cleaned it out in watergate. today we have a casino operator dropping $100 million for the capable no. limits. >> no limits and there's a good chance that romney is going to outraise obama or that the republican side will outraise obama because of these unlimited do neighings from super pac. chris: they won stuff. >> there are ultrarich liberals who could be donating in similar amounts and so far have declined to do so.
i think it's a question of politics and temperament in part and maybe also a question of whether there's something they want. chris: isn't there a difference between a guy or a woman who believe in liberal causes like same-sex marriage or supporting israel but then they are people giving money for a particular need and they want to have a meeting with the president after the election. >> those tend to be more on the republican side. >> we're back to naked exchanges of money for action in government. chris: regulation changes. >> and it's the kind of thing that richard nixon specialized in and institutionalized and we're back to that point. >> can i just make one point about the citizens united decision which often gets blamed. chris: shouldn't it be? >> yes, except they're requiring disclosure. there are still 527 issue advocacy groups that don't
require disclosure like karl rove's group. chris: whatever decision it is, it's gotten there. you were the "washington post" writer famed for having broken this story. is there a feeling that we're back to square one? everything good that came out of watergate has been blown away, all the regulations? >> it does sometimes seem as if the ghosts of 40 years ago have enenveloped us. it's part of the story that each generation is going to have to relearn the basic lessons or we're going to have to relearn the way in which officials lie to us. the need for transparency in government. journalism in a sense came into its modern era and happily we still hold on to those personalities. bob woodward, karl bernstein and a wonderful group at the "washington post." ben bradley, now 90, led that coverage.
those are still our models and the idea that we developed then of holding powerful people in institutions accountable we still have. i worry, and i think kelly said it really well. sometimes this idea of investigative accountability gets translated into investigative gotcha. we're going after trivial things and people know that. they know they're not big things. we're caught pumping them up to make ourselves look big. i think we need to look at ourselves in a mirror as a profession and make sure we're holding on to the things we learned in the watergate country are valuable to the country. >> well said. i think it's incumbent upon the new generation of digital based media, which i'm working on at the "the huffington post." we have to be infire fire -- inspired by that tradition that david is talking about and you always need inspired leadership to do that. that was the thing about nixon.
he corrupted the idea of acceptable, responsible leadership. he took the idea of leadership and sold it for money and corrupt power. whether it's in the media or in politics or government, we have to remember that. chris: isn't it interesting that the public, whether on a jury or reading the newspapers can tell the difference? that they saw in the edwards case that was just dropped basically. this was all about his private messy marriage situation, not about real criminality. clinton did make a mistake in that testimony. it was a mistake. it wasn't a high crime. the public seems to know that where with nixon they recognized this was serious constitutional business. >> people did realize that what nixon was doing was different. we should remember not only the watergate break-in on this anniversary but the country came together. interestingly after watergate there was a kind of bipartisan, we remember -- >> very well.
>> certainly you and howard remember watching those hearings. watching sam irvin, a democrat and howard baker, a republican, coming together to investigate this and bringing the republican -- country together. and then we remember gerald ford, a simple republican, not the smartest guy in the world, who united the country. chris: the roll any campaign argues his press treatment has focused on his fullbackles and gaffes. as the campaign goes on forward will press treatment of romney improve? 11 say yes. one says romney never had bad press. that would be my thinking. we have june, july august before we have the big debates and the conventions. why will it get better in these months? >> there's another way to define better and that is more parity.
an incumbent president has such an advantage to be a newsmaker, to be covered all the time. but to give both more time is in effect better for romney. chris: but the critique is that somehow the press jumped on him for saying things like i just got off the aircraft, the same sort of idiom he speaks in. would you call that trivial? >> i think it goes to who he is as a person. i think one reason why the coverage for mitt romney will improve is because he has a better chance of being president and the press corps is going to have to come to terms with the idea that they have to understand this guy in full if he's going to be president. i think that's part of it. also, in the case of barack obama, if barack obama is merely attacking romney, it's going to look like barack obama is clanging the subject. that then also helps mitt romney. chris: amazing what the public
is hearing from everybody here is -- which is like the guy likes -- looks like he might win. cool it a billionth. -- little bit. >> i disagree. i think if restarts to develop a lead it's going to get tougher. >> i think the media will hold him to account. who is this guy? what about his past? what his he done? chris: hollywood is beginning with the classic woodward and bernstein story "all the president's men" and then there's the horse of a different color. forrest gump. >> a few months later they invited me and the team to visit the white house. so i went, again. and i met the president of the united states again. only this time they didn't get it rooms in a real fancy hotel. >> so are you enjoying yourself in our nation's capital, young man? >> yes, sir. >> well, where are you sare -- saying? >> it's called the hotel
abbott. >> oh, no, i know a much nicer hotel. it's new and very modern. i'll have my people take care of it for you. >> sir, you might want to send a maintenance man to that office across the way. the lights are off and they must be looking for a fuse box or something because those flash lights, they're keeping me awake. thank you. good night. >> therefore, i shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow. chris: that was the great tom hanks, of course. when we come back, what a difficult june it's been for president obama's campaign. the conventional wisdom now has mitt romney in a solid position to actually win this election. plus, scoops and predictions from the top reporters. be right back.
it's been a pretty horrible june for barack obama's campaign, let's face it. it's gone from the bad jobs report on the first of the month to the lost in the wisconsin recall election to the leaks uproar, the falling behind in racing cash and a far too optimistic remark by the president about the private sector economy, and all that against the backdrop of mitt romney who has been running out the clock, shaking hands and delivering a requisite smile but not answering any reporters' questions on the issues. playing it safe. >> do you think your comments about firefighters were taken out of context? >> i'm sorry? >> do you think your comments about firefighters were taken out of context? chris: that is -- we've all been there. when he keeps his head down and he mumbles something to you that can't be used on calle -- camera. >> and i've been the one shouting the question. it's an awkward moment pofment
candidates will tell you they want to be with the voter but of course they're also wont -- wanting to be in whatever control they can have. chris: but they want to be on camera. >> they want to be on camera, be seen interacting, but he also gains by being less available. fewer chances for mistakes. if he is visible once a day instead of 10 times a day, they can ride out the clock for a little while in this spring period because it's going to get so intense. chris: it seems the guys who do this do well until october 15 but the public begins to understand they're not really relating. >> as we were saying, there will be much more focus on romney and his policies. i think the sentence that the president said about the private sector is doing fine misses the larger issues. first, a lot of this is out of
the easy control of the president is the economy going up or down, is europe going to go down the chutes? the big issue that people are going to be struggling with through the summer, i think is barack obama a strong president? does he have it in him to really lead the country? because this is a tough time. at home, abroad? is mitt romney going to be a strong president? those are the questions i think people are going to be asking. >> i think the whole lens through which everything is being viewed was that jobs report. all the other things that happened that were bad for obama in the past two weeks wouldn't have been a bad deal if the jobs reports had been great. chris: given all the bad jobs reports, given the fact that e buster: could easily lose this thing, will he up his game?
>> i think so. chris: will he bring in new people? listen to carville and other outsiders? >> i think knowing what i know of his history, he knows how to meet challenges and he's going to have to meet this one. one of the things he's going to have to do is explain not everything's been perfect and one of barack obama's problems is his refusal to admit error and he's going to have to and he's going to have to draw on the ability to convince people of his leadership that he managed to do in 2008. he's going to have to try to do it again. will he succeed? i'm not sure but i see him improving his performance between now and the end because he's facing the possibility of defeat. this is a proud guy who has been very determined in his life and he's not going to go quietly. chris: when we come back, scoops a that fridge in your kitchen may have crossed this bridge. your new car probably rode these rails. that shipment you just received was tracked by
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at ge aviation, we build jet engines. we lift people up off the ground to 35 thousand feet. these engines are built by hand with very precise assembly techniques. [ mike ] it's going to fly people around the world. safely and better than it's ever done before. it would be a real treat to hear this monster fire up. [ jaronda ] i think a lot of people, when they look at a jet engine, they see a big hunk of metal. but when i look at it, i see seth, mark, tom, and people like that who work on engines every day. [ tom ] i would love to see this thing fly. [ kareem ] it's a dream, honestly. there it is. oh, wow. that's so cool! yeah, that was awesome! [ cheering ] [ tom ] i wanna see that again. ♪ chris: welcome back.
howard, tell me something i don't knowful >> the virginia senate race is going to be the pivotal thing, partly because it's a rematch in a sense between leaders of both parties in that state. tim cain, george allen, former senator. right across the river from washington. it matches up perfectly with the national presidential campaign. that is going to be the test case for the whole country. chris: i think you're right. and you think it will go the way after? >> yes, i think whoever wins the senate wins the presidency, etc. >> if the supreme court strikes down obama care, this could be a silver lining for obama because small businesses may see it as a reason to start hiring and it may improve the economy. >> the politics of the olympics. mitt romney is associated with the olympics, wants to get some of that magic. a big question for his campaign is do you unveil your vice president selection before or
after? chris: when does the olympics start? >> end of jacksonville. it's before or after. chris: john sflune just guessing. >> chris, i just got off a plane from cairo and people, including u.s. officials are highly anxious this weekend as the presidential election comes to its conclusion about the place blowing up again. the u.s. has been meeting with six different members of the muslim brother hood trying to get to know them, get a handle on this but nobody can make -- chris: do they keep the treaty with israel? >> they told me that they intend to keep all treaties, including our treaty with israel, but then they go on to say there are some aspects that have never been implemented. they've been very cagey but there's growing concern that we're going back to a wild in
this bridge. your new car probably rode these rails. that shipment you just received was tracked by satellite. we build and maintain. we invest and innovate. so we can deliver what america needs. this year alone, freight rail companies plan to spend twenty-three billion of their own money, not taxpayer dollars, to build bridges, maintain track, and develop new technologies to keep freight rail and our economy moving. there's a lot riding on these rails. a moment. we're not just voting for the president, we're voting for education,
healthcare, our communities, and our planet's future. your vote counts for a lot the more you know. chris: welcome back. this week's big question, can barack obama win the election this november without giving away a good look at what his second term is going to be like? >> no. and he's got to convince people that the times will be better and say how. >> i agree although i don't think he has to get into too many specifics because inevitably that gets torn down. >> a vision is important. i also think he can reconnect with his likeability. >> he's got to offer a vision and a plan. he's got to tell people what a second term of barack obama would be like. chris: i would say why don't you do it now? thanks to a great round table.
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