I have certainly written about Chris Matthews and his propensity for toeing the Republican Party line as well as using his show for a platform to excuse the abuses of the Bush administration and the GOP controlled Congress. It was just last month when Matthews exclaimed that "everyone likes this president except the real whack-jobs on the left. " Recently, Matthews has used his show to play softball with anyone willing to minimize the impending Jack Abramoff corruption scandal or try and turn it into a bipartisan event. Now it seems we know why.
Daily Kos is reporting today that Mr. Matthews has ties to Mr. Abramoff and the details of those ties presents ethical problems for someone pretending to be a journalist. Jack Abramoff is the former super-lobbyist who bilked millions upon millions of dollars from his clients, bribed numerous republican congressmen, and even paid to have things inserted into the congressional record from those he did "business " with. Amongst the slime of Mr. Abramoff, he also ran a faux charity called the "Capital Athletic Foundation ", which allegedly was designed to provide sports related programs for youth. Instead, Jack used the charity as a front to funnel money in and out of to provide perks to the Congressmen he was bribing and doing business with. The reality is that less than ONE percent of the revenue of the Capital Athletic Foundation (CAF) actually went to sports related programs for youth. CAF was actually used to fund the overseas trips for Tom Delay and others we are starting to hear so much about.
According to sourcewatch.com, the following is a breakdown of some of the dealings of CAF:
In 2001, CAF received $1 million from the Coushatta and $177,415 from Foxcom.
The Coushatta apparently believed that the donation was for a sky box from which Abramoff would lobby Members of Congress during Redskins games.
In 2002, CAF collected $2.56 million from 9 donors including 3 tribes.
In 2003, CAF collected $2.15 million from tribes, Michael Scanlon and an internet casino client of Abramoff 's. $2.13 million of the money went to the Eshkol Academy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/eshkol_academy), a school started [in 2001] by Abramoff.
In a February 2003 email, Abramoff told Scanlon to make sure that his share of money went to Eshkol directly 'using school as conduit for some of our activities . .. If that won 't fly with them, use CAF.'
CAF also paid $120,000 in August 2002 for Abramoff, Robert W. Ney, Ralph E. Reed, Jr., and then-General Services Administration Chief of Staff David Safavian "to St. Andrews to play golf with a stop in London on way back. Ney later claimed that the trip 's purpose was to raise money for a foundation, but there were no fundraising events during the course of the trip."
So we have a sleazy lobbyist in bed with a lot of sleazy politicians, all of which are from the GOP. They use a fake charity to provide themselves with junkets around the world such as golfing at St. Andrews in Scotland. This is where Chris Matthews comes in. On March 5, 2003, Matthews helped put on a charity event for the purpose of raising $300,000 for the Capital Athletic Foundation. According to sourcewatch.com:
"Fox News Channel's Tony Snow is master of ceremonies, and Fox's Brit Hume and MSNBC's Chris Matthews are aboard. Opera great Placido Domingo is an event committee member. But, this being Washington, the event will be mostly populated by powerful lawmakers, including Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas; Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa.; and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif. "
As Daily Kos correctly points out, there are two problems with Matthews ' involvement. The first is what in the world is Chris Matthews doing cavorting with Jack Abramoff and helping him generate money into his fake charity? The second problem and more unseemly, is what is Matthews doing at such a blatantly partisan event? A man who plays the role of impartial journalist is now exposed as being a darling of the Republican Party? Certainly no one would be surprised at Tony Snow 's involvement, since he works for Fox News, but Chris Matthews?
Yes folks, Chris Matthews. If you have watched his show for the past week you have seen him attack Abramoff as a sleaze, but then use every other moment to minimize this scandal. He has tried to make it seem that this is just politics as usual and has gone out of his way to leave the impression with his viewers that Abramoff was an equal opportunity sleaze to both parties. The fact is that Abramoff was a republican, dealt primarily with republicans, and this scandal is not just politics as usual. It goes to the heart of what is wrong with our system when lobbyists have more control over our elected officials than the people they claim to represent. Corporate lobbying is one of the largest problems eating away at our democracy.
Another cancer withering our democracy away is the consolidation of media which has resulted in the bludgeoning of the truth. The truth is massaged, packaged and sold to America. People like Chris Matthews has an incredibly powerful pulpit from which to influence public opinion and any appearance of impropriety or conflict of interest should be taken very seriously. For the past week we have seen Matthews try and pooh-pooh the Abramoff scandal and minimize it down to a politics as usual, bi-partisan event. Nonsense. This is potentially larger than Abscam and the cockroaches are starting to scatter, handing back their tainted money to charity as fast as they can and pretending they never knew Abramoff.
People who are supposed to be impartial in the news business build their reputation upon their ethics. Without a neutral ethical base they have no credibility. That is why no one takes Fox News seriously. We all know they are bought and sold for the Republican Party. What a lot of America is not aware of though, is that so are a lot of other would-be-truth-tellers, such as Matthews. When Matthews tells America that everyone loves this president, we now must wonder who paid him for that opinion. When we see him minimizing the Abramoff scandal, we now know it is because he is in the middle of it. He is no longer a journalist; he merely plays one on TV.