Tuned In

Wrongest Name in Cable News?

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OK, so cable-news pundits bluster, shoot from the hip and end up hilariously, spectacularly wrong occasionally. Or more than occasionally. It’s pretty much the job description. And Chris Matthews—well, God love him, he’s very good at his job.

But this clip is really something. It’s like a gold-medal performance in wrongness. It’s like automotive engineers built a supersonic Wrong machine, filled its fuel tank with high-octane Liquid Wrong, hauled it out to the Bonneville Salt Flats, and attempted to set the world record in wrong.

On Jan. 22, just after Scott Brown’s election victory in Massachusetts, Matthews talks to Rep. Alan Grayson. Subject: Where does health care reform go from here? In the interview, Grayson essentially gives Matthews precisely the strategy the Democrats will use, successfully: pass the Senate bill and change it using the reconciliation process (which is filibuster-proof). And Matthews proceeds to spend several minutes mocking Grayson for the naivete of the idea.You can’t do that! You can’t create a new program using reconciliation! It’s not how the parliamentary process works! I used to work in Congress! You have no idea how the Senate works!

Well, it turned out somebody had no idea. (In fairness, the Senate hasn’t passed the reconciliation package yet, but its intention and authority to put it to a vote is pretty much obvious to anyone now covering the health-care issue. Update: Oh, and further fairness—Matthews was hardly the only Washington journalist who “knew” that you could not pass health care using reconciliation back in January and earlier.)

If you have a few minutes, the interview starts about 1:00 into this clip. You are unlikely to see such a baroque example of a cable-news pundit being wrong in his conventional-wisdom interpretation of “how things work” anytime soon.

With the possible exception of whatever happens to be live on cable news right now. In a few minutes, it’ll be time for Hardball!

(Thanks to Jay Rosen for the pointer. Update: His tweet, by the way, leads to this Daily Kos writeup on the clip, which is worth a read.)

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