Kurtz: Matthews “Seriously Testing The Waters For A Senate Run”

Earlier today, Howard Kurtz held his weekly chat where he covered such topics as reaction to David Gregory taking over Meet the Press; Chris Matthews’ future; and the reasoning behind media bias. Some excerpts:

Boston, Mass.: On David Gregory and the younger generation. I was a little surprised by all the anti-Gregory vitriol on your Facebook page. I’m indifferent. However, Gregory comes off as a very empty person. As a viewer I never get the sense that he believes in anything (which love him or loathe him, you couldn’t say about Russert). Is that what drives the online antipathy against Gregory?

Howard Kurtz: I have no clue. He’s a reporter at heart, so it hasn’t been his role to espouse political views. I know he became a divisive figure in 2005 and 2006 when he repeatedly clashed with President Bush, Scott McClellan and Tony Snow, mostly over the war, but aggressive reporters aren’t known for being excessively polite. Gregory told me yesterday he plans to treat the Obama administration the same way he did the Bush administration. I’m sure lots of people will be watching to see if he lives up to those words.

Washington, D.C.: So what’s the deal with Chris Matthews? Is he signing a new contract for Hardball as I read yesterday online? Or is he really leaning towards running for office in PA? Was the Senate rumor all a ploy for contract negotiations?

Howard Kurtz: The one thing I can tell you is that it wasn’t a rumor. Matthews has consulted with Pennsylvania Democratic officials about a possible Senate run, including Gov. Ed Rendell and Arlen Specter’s opponent last time, Joe Hoeffel, who told me about his conversations with Chris. It may be that Matthews will wind up signing a new deal with MSNBC, though the contract doesn’t expire till June. But there is no question he has been seriously testing the waters for a Senate run.

Maryland: Shepherd Park: “Why shouldn’t Obama get more positive coverage if his policies and proposals were actually better than McCain’s”

I am really getting tired of this canard that has been used extensively this year to “justify” the coverage levels of the candidates. First, “better” policies are in the eye of the beholder, aren’t they? Secondly, if you want a real gut check on this assertion, let’s go back to 1988, where Dukakis ran a terrible, nay execrable, campaign against Bush I. If this assertion has merit, then Bush should have gotten the more favorable coverage. But did he?

Howard Kurtz: I agree that “better” policies are in the eye of the beholder. And it is inevitable that, in hindsight, we always say the winner ran a better campaign. But that may involve public judgments on his character, his running mate, his party and what qualities voters feel are needed at the time, as well as the substance of his proposals. For instance, even if you strip everything else away, including the terrible state of the economy and the profound unpopularity of President Bush, it is unusual for voters to award one party a third consecutive term. That factor may have helped Kennedy in 1960, Nixon in 1968 and Bush in 2000 (but not Dukakis in 1988).