Whole Lotta Tree-Shakin’ Going On?

While some are tired of fly-swatting, many sphere-dwellers are doing their best to exterminate the pests creating the post-Rice testimony media buzz.

Cable Newser deems Tom Shales’ piece in today’s Washington Post worthy of two separate posts. The ‘Newser notes that “Tom takes the opportunity to diss” CNN for failing to silence its on-screen news scroll which nervily advertised assorted CNN shows and mentioned products like Viagra during Rice’s testimony.

At The Corner, Tim Graham seems pleased that “the inevitably fussy Tom Shales … grades Condi well,” but he is less pleased that the Post suggests that “‘one section of the room erupted into applause for Rice several times, only to be answered a bit later by applause for her interrogators from another quarter of the room.” (Graham confuses David Von Drehle’s story with one by Dan Eggan and Walter Pincus, but he gets the quote right.) Graham thinks the “pro-Rice applause” came second. (Campaign Desk agrees).

At One Hand Clapping, Donald Ensing is too busy commenting on the commission itself — “the sheer ineptitude”! — to weigh in on the “order of applause” issue.

Two raps with the fly-swatter for MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. Professor Bainbridge pontificates that “Matthews misrepresented Rice’s testimony.” Matthews, he writes, had four of the “9/11 widows” on “Hardball” yesterday, and he played a clip from Rice’s testimony in which Commission member Richard Ben-Veniste asks, “Isn’t it a fact, Dr. Rice, that the August 6th PDB [Presidential Daily Briefing] warned against possible attacks in this country?” According to the Professor, Matthews then said to the widows: “He didn’t say warn. He asked what the title was. The direct question — she didn’t want to give a direct answer. How did that hit you?” Professor Bainbridge lectures: “This was either the dumbest thing Chris Matthews ever said or the most brazenly partisan lie he’s ever told.”

Matthew Yglesias, it would appear, also finds Matthews “somewhat sub-optimal.” It seems Yglesias would like to see former senator Bob Kerrey replace the “Hardball” host, with Sen. John McCain as co-host: “[Kerrey] should probably have a show named ‘Hardball’ that would feature, you know, actual hardball instead of whatever it is Chris Matthews does.” It was Kerrey’s performance yesterday, Yglesias concludes, that should earn him the job. “Normally your moderates are just soft on everyone,” he opines, “but [Kerrey] has an entertaining ‘I hate everyone’… je ne sais quoi about him.”

Then there’s Tom Schaller, writing on Daily Kos, who had a different reaction to the same “Hardball” episode. “If you are near a television,” Schaller wrote yesterday, “go to MSNBC’s Hardball RIGHT NOW.” Schaller calls the four 9/11 widows’ segment “the single most powerful television I’ve seen to date.”

Which leaves Campaign Desk wondering: Did any of these guys see the same Condoleezza Rice testimony that we saw? And, next, did any of them see the same Chris Mathews show?

Liz Cox Barrett

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.