On the 5pm Monday edition of MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews”, a story about Barack Obama was accompanied by a graphic of Osama Bin Laden. After the commercial break, Matthews apologized for the error and moved on with his show.
Over a week ago, MSNBC correspondent David Shuster was suspended when he suggested that the Clintons were exploiting their daughter, Chelsea, for their own political gain. The point could be argued one way or another but Shuster’s choice of words (that the Clintons were “pimping” Chelsea) was most unfortunate. Despite an on air apology, Shuster is still suspended. If Hillary had her way, he would have been fired.
Well, I think the more appropriate target for firing is whichever staff member “mistakenly” called up a picture of Osama Bin Laden during an Obama story. On the eve of the Wisconsin primary, a major news show “confuses” the most inspirational candidate of our time with America’s number one fugitive, responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans in the World Trade Center attacks of 2001. This mistake cannot get simply passed over with a curt apology from Chris Matthews. The parties responsible should be fired and their dismissal should be announced by MSNBC in a prominent venue (perhaps tomorrow nights edition of Hardball). I don’t blame Matthews personally for this screw up but I do hold him responsible to make sure the error gets publicly rectified.
In a country where a sizable percentage of ignorant Americans think Obama is a Muslim, this mistake on Hardball only serves as a subliminal reenforcement of that inaccurate impression. When the show ended this evening, I called MSNBC and voiced my concern. I’m now calling on MSNBC and Matthews to do the right thing and make it clear that encouraging any association between Obama and Osama, however accidental, is unacceptable.