Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s Hardball, brought the Hardball College Tour to UM for a live national broadcast discussing the topic of liberal bias in the media with CBS insider Bernard Goldberg, who exposed how the media distorts the news in his best selling book, Bias.
On the live show, Goldberg presented his view that most cable news networks and nightly news broadcasts present a left-of-center bias, while talk show radio and Fox News present conservative views of the news.
“The only place diversity is discussed more than on the news is on college campus,” said Goldberg, pandering to the crowd. “Diversity is a goddess.”
While visiting, Matthews also held a book-signing event of his latest book, American: Beyond Our Grandest Notions.
“[The Hardball College Tour] is pretty clearly to get a younger audience involved in our program,” Matthews said. “We need to reach into an audience that’s all too often overlooked.”
Matthews said that the students at his shows are animated when it comes to issues of politics and national news.
Part of the College Tour involves a “Hot Seat” competition where one student is chosen to be quizzed by Matthews on American history and politics. The student tries to answer as many questions as he can in 90 seconds for a chance to qualify for a $10,000 grant.
Bill Hasselberger, vice-president for the Philosophy Honors Society and Philosophy Club, represented UM.
“I do watch Hardball regularly, though I live in Lisbon, Portugal, where it airs irregularly,” Hasselberger said. “Honestly I think of the competition as more of an interesting experience than anything else.”
Hasselberger answered 5 questions correctly, ranking him 12th nationally in the competition.
“I think it was a wonderful opportunity for our students to see a live show and one of the best interviewers I know,” said UM President Donna Shalala, who sat in the front row for the show.
In an exclusive interview with the Miami Hurricane, Matthews spoke of issues relating to the media and to the public’s perception of it.
“I don’t think anybody disagrees that the media is liberal,” Matthews said. “People go to cable to get away from the socially liberal attitudes of prime time.”
“I don’t have any problem with it – I match up with that,” he said.
Matthews also believes that people have become “dispossessed” with mainstream media.
“Does anybody with a brain not think the media is not based in New York City? People are influenced by the gritty attitude of the city – it’s all a function of geography and culture; it’s just a fact,” Matthews said.
Matthews went on to say that if mainstream media were based in L.A., Detroit or even Miami, mainstream attitudes would reflect those sociocultural differences.
“Everybody’s biased; everybody has an opinion. The question is: are you gonna make a big deal out of it?” Matthews said. “We obviously operate from an American point of view. Ninety percent of watching news is distilling out the point of view.”
Matthews has often described Hardball as “clean, aggressive Machiavellian politics.”
“[Hardball] doesn’t waste people’s time,” Matthews said. “It’s a pace like people normally talk. Most conversation isn’t like the Carnegie School of Acting.”
Before Hardball, Matthews was a Washington insider and a speechwriter for President Carter.
“I loved that job,” Matthews said. “I’d be knocking out words that the President would speak.”
Matthews also had a few things to say about the recent increase in UM tuition going up 5.9 percent. “Tuition costs have dramatically overshadowed the Consumer Price Index,” he said. “They’ve gone up exponentially more.”
Matthews also mentioned that he paid a total of $2000 for tuition and for room and board throughout the four years that he attended college.
Recently, rumors have been circulating that Matthews will be running for senator of Pennsylvania.
According to Matthews, he still has six and a half years left on his NBC contract and he thinks it highly unlikely that he would be able to reach a national audience every night if he were senator.
“I’ve always wanted to be a senator from Pennsylvania since I’ve been a kid,” Matthews said, although he admits he is a fan of Arlen Spector, the current senator.
“He was the first guy I ever voted for,” Matthews said, referring to Spector’s run for mayor of Philadelphia in 1967, a race he lost.
In terms of his opinion of the current Democratic field of presidential candidates, Matthews favors John Kerry.
“As a journalist, as a citizen, I think Kerry will be the best debater,” Matthews said. “He’ll bring out the best and the worst of Bush.”
On Wednesday, Kerry entered a hospital for a radical prostatectomy [removal of prostate cancer]. His candidacy for President is currently in question.
Matthews also has some advice for college students interested in working in politics.
“Follow your passion, believe in yourself and be honest,” he said. “The trick in politics is to offer yourself to the public.”
And yes, Matthews told the Miami Hurricane that he likes Darryl Hammond’s impression of him on Saturday Night Live.
Sam Lockhart can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.