Chris Matthews: “My Job Is to Help This Country”

Chris Matthews might need a refresher course…in Journalism 101. Talking about the Rahm Emanuel rumors with Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, Rick Stengel, and Lawrence O’Donnell on today’s Morning Joe, Matthews declared that his job as a journalist is “to make this thing work, this new presidency work.” At which Scarborough et al pounced:

MATTHEWS: You know what? I want to do everything I can to make this thing work, this new presidency work.
SCARBOROUGH: Is that your job? You just talked about your being a journalist.
MATTHEWS: Yeah, that’s my job. My job is to help this country.
SCARBOROUGH: So your job as a journalist is to make this presidency work?
MATTHEWS: To make this work successfully, because this country needs a successful presidency, more than anything right now….
BRZEZINSKI: Well, I’m a little confused about what the job is here, because of course we all want things to work, but I’m not sure it’s our job. Rick Stengel, in terms of, when someone is—
MATTHEWS: How can you not root for the success of a new president?
BRZEZINSKI: You know what? I just think, well, it’s going to be important to ask questions.
SCARBOROUGH: As Americans, Chris Matthews, we are all rooting for the success of Barack Obama. America is at a perilous time. But you just talked about being a journalist, and your job as a journalist is not to question motives—and then, two seconds later, you said your job was to make this presidency a success. We’re just—that’s curious.

Curious, indeed. The job of a politician, Chris—say, I don’t know, a Pennsylvania senator—is “to make this work successfully.” That is not the job of a journalist.

[h/t Michael Calderone]

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.