Chris Matthews on Monday linked the “zealots” in Afghanistan who encouraged and participated in the murders of United Nations workers to Republican “fanatics” and “zealots at home” who “attack the President’s basic beliefs, accusing him of thinking like a Muslim from Kenya.”
Making his connection clear, the Hardball host (see file photo at right) opined, “Is this what’s come to the wars in the Islamic world? We’ve begun to talk like the zealots from the Middle East.” MSNBC graphics also made the point. First, a picture of a militaristic Muslims appeared with the words “zealots abroad.”
Then, a shot of Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann and Donald Trump was shown above the message: “zealots at home.” After his opening commentary, Matthews interviewed New York University professor Irshad Manji and Abderrahim Foukara of Al Jazeera.
Later, Matthews reiterated his A-to-B-to-C connection. Referencing Terry Jones, the Florida pastor in Florida who burned Korans in 2010, the anchor alleged, “But they keep spreading this rumor on the right, people like Newt Gingrich and the rest of them. They are building the case for this Billy Bob character to build Korans and then he’s giving a case to [Afghanistan President Hamid] Karzai to save his butt over there.”
He continued, “This is a dynamic, dangerous kind of thing that does lead to wars. This is what happens in wars. Rumors lead to rumors lead to rumors and then only in the end, ‘I only responded to what I heard. It’s not my fault.’ That’s what you hear. The killers.”
A partial transcript of the April 4 segment, which aired at 5pm EDT, follows:
MSNBC graphic: Zealots Abroad. Graphic changes to Zealots at Home [Trump, Bachmann and Gingrich pictured]
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Leading off tonight: Zealots abroad, zealots at home. What a horrible story I’ve come home to. Not the tsunami, not the nuclear disaster. Not even Qadhafi. But what do you do when people, 20,000 of them, rush United Nations workers? Good people doing good work in a tough place? Why? Because some character on the other side of the world burnt a holy book. Is this why young men risk and give their lives, arms and legs in Afghanistan and Iraq so that any time on this planet that some clown decides to say something against Islam, innocent people get killed? Is this the deal? I spent the last seven days in a land divided by religion. The Israelis hold their covenant with God to the land he promised them.
The Arabs cling to the land of their birth, to their Muslim or Christian faith and, yes, they too to Jerusalem. But, listen to the fanatics in this country. They attack the President’s basic beliefs, accusing him of thinking like a Muslim from Kenya. You hear that a lot. Or- this is the subtle version- not accepting the specialness of America. Like he’s not really one of us. They say the President isn’t one of us. They say he may also be an impostor. The Democrats are anti-American. They want next year’s election, that’s the people on the right, to be about who the real Americans are, the real Christians.
They let the word spread around the country, keep spreading, by the way, to a majority of their Republicans, about how the President may have just snuck in this country, doctored his papers and now pretends to be a Christian. Even John Boehner, who’s obviously a sensitive guy, won’t raise his voice one bit to stop this talk. Is this what’s come to the wars in the Islamic world? We’ve begun to talk like the zealots from the Middle East.
MATTHEWS: But they keep spreading this rumor on the right, people like Newt Gingrich and the rest of them. They are building the case for this Billy Bob character to build Korans and then he’s giving a case to Karzai to save his butt over there. This is a dynamic, dangerous kind of thing that does lead to wars. This is what happens in wars. Rumors lead to rumors lead to rumors and then only in the end, “I only responded to what I heard. It’s not my fault.” That’s what you hear. The killers.
— Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.