MSNBC’s Chris Matthews is an unapologetic political commentator known to grill guests and ruffle talking points.
It’s an interview style that has earned Matthews the reputation as confrontational by his fans and critics alike.
But much of what Matthews talks about in his new book is how two titans of liberal and conservatives values were able to deal.
Matthews visited Louisville this week as a guest of the Kentucky Author Forum to discuss “Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked.”
It’s about the relationship between President Ronald Reagan and Speaker Tip O’Neill, whom Matthews served as one of O’Neill’s aides in the 1980s. The two men were political adversaries and ideological opposites to be clear, but were still able to compromise and makes deals on Social Security.
On Tip and the Gipper:
“They agreed on things like a honeymoon. A new president shouldn’t be denied a chance for an up or down vote on what he proposed because the voters put him in there. That’s respect for the voters,” he says. “I think there was also the culture of you argue for awhile and then you deal. There’s a deadline.”
On the tone of Hardball:
“These things come to me like phantasms,” says Matthews. “God probably gave me the idea to ask the obvious question that the person does not know the answer to and you’ve basically taken their cloths off. It is just what you want to do in my kind of business. Show that the person is not prepared and shouldn’t be out there barking things when they don’t know what they’re talking about. And that’s part of the fun of doing the show.”
On controversies surrounding MSNBC colleague Martin Bashir compared to comments by Bill O’Reilly:
“I actually don’t go after Bill O’Reilly. I think you’re making generalizations. That’s not what I do,” says Matthews.
“I’m a loyalist to my network. I’ll be open to you. They pay me. I believe in what we’re trying to do. I believe in loyalty. I believe in collegiality. These are my values. So I’m not out there on a street corner with a bullhorn yelling up at MSNBC. I’m in MSNBC. So I’m not going to talk like somebody else.”