Chris Matthews Spars With Larry Elder During Hostile Radio Interview (Audio)

Chris Matthews - P 2011

"What is this, a game? Is this a game show?," the MSNBC host asks the KABC host. "This is why this country is being torn apart, with this kind of hatred."

Chris Matthews may have engaged in the most contentious interview of his career. This time, though, the MSNBC host was playing the role of guest.

Matthews appeared this week on Larry Elder’s radio show in Los Angeles to promote his book, Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero. Elder, though, was convinced the book was less biography than hagiography, and it obviously bothered him.

The interview was Tuesday and Elder wrote about its fallout on Thursday.

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“You know things didn’t go well when, a few minutes after the interview concludes, Matthews’ booker emails my producer,” Elder wrote Thursday.

The email read: “I wish you would’ve let me know that Larry was planning on attacking Chris. Chris is always up for a good, healthy debate, but that was really not professional or cool.”

Tuesday’s interview was hostile from the get go as Elder, who has hosted a show on KABC Radio for more than 10 years, tried to establish Matthews as a biased journalist who unfairly attacks Republicans.

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“You consider yourself a journalist?” Elder asks.

Matthews says he is, though one that is “slightly to the left.”

“As when you said this?” Elder says before playing a clip where Matthews says Republicans want “people who don’t have insurance to die on the gurney,” among other critiques of Republicans that Elder wasn’t thrilled with.

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In short, Republicans enjoy “causing cruel pain on people,” Matthews says.

Audio of the interview is below.

While Matthew is responding to the clip, Elder interrupts.

“I’m sorry for cutting you off the way you cut your guests off,” he tells the Hardball host.

As for Matthews’ new book, it starts with Kennedy’s “heroism in World War II,” an incident that inspired the 1963 movie PT 109, Matthews explains.

“Okay, let’s talk about PT 109,” says Elder. “You don’t at all discuss how the boat got into trouble in the first place. A lot of historians feel that it was his own irresponsible handling of PT 109 that caused the boat to get into trouble.”

“That would be a conservative or right-wing point of view. A person who was prejudiced against Kennedy,” Matthews says. He tries to expand, but Elder interrupts.

“You called me right wing, so I want to deal with what you now just said,” says Elder, before citing a historian who called Kennedy’s handling of PT 109  “the most screwed up PT boat action of World War II.”

“What is this a game? Is this a game show?” Matthews says.  

Next, when Elder cites historians critical of Kennedy’s handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Matthews says: “What is the purpose of this conversation?”

“The purpose right now is to show that you are glossing over Kennedy. You are airbrushing the bad things,” Elder answers.

“Do I have any role in this show, or do I just sit here and listen to your rap?” Matthews says.

“If you wanna hang up, go ahead and hang up, Chris,” Elder says.

A few times during the interview, Elder thinks Matthews has already hung up on him. “Are you there?” he asks on two separate occasions.

Elder seems most upset that Matthews dedicated so little space to the Kennedy tax cuts, which Elder called his “singular economic achievement.”

“You spend about a half-page on the tax cuts, why is that. You still there?”

“I’m trying to be polite, and I come on your show because you invited me,” Matthews says.

But the two can’t even agree on that.

“No, no, no, no. You called us and you asked to come on. I didn’t invite you,” Elder says.

“How can you write a book about Kennedy and spend a half a page on the tax cuts? How can you do that? You still there?” Elder says.

“This is an embarrassment,” Matthews says.  “This is why this country is being torn apart, with this kind of hatred.”

“It’s called a disagreement,” Elder says. “You perceive it as hatred, just like you perceive that the Republicans want people to die on gurneys, and they don’t care about illegal aliens, and all the other silly things that you’ve said. That’s hatred. That’s hatred, Chris.”