Thursday, June 23, 2016, it was announced that top political analyst Chris Matthews of MSNBC will become the fifth recipient of the prestigious 2016 Tip O’Neil Irish Diaspora Award. Matthews political notoriety and journalistic success stem from his show, Hardball with Chris Matthews. The show is nearing its 20-year anniversary.
Though Matthews is predominantly known for his TV talk show that broadcast five nights a week on MSNBC at 7 p.m. (EST), he is also a best-selling author, having written seven different books. His most recent book, Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked, is based on the great tale of two top political opponents of their time: Republican President Ronald Reagan, and Democratic Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill.
When Politics Worked, showcases the style and methods used by Reagan and O’Neill to overcome party politics to advance progress and what they believed would better the lives of the American people. Matthews served as O’Neill’s top aide and Chief of Staff which allowed him a first-hand perspective writing his book.
Four of the books he has written have been about his time spent in or around the political arena. The other two have been about John F. Kennedy, with one strictly focusing on the rivalry between Kennedy and Richard Nixon.
The 70-year old journalist has an impressive educational history in journalism with honorary degrees from Ohio State University, Washington University, Howard University, College of Holy Cross, Fordham University, Villanova University, La Salle University and Temple University. He also was a part of Harvard University’s Institute of Politics and University of North Carolina’s Economics program.
While Matthews certainly has the credentials to receive the deeply rooted Irish award, it may help that his maternal family has direct links to Ireland, along with an Irish heritage on his paternal side.
The Irish Diaspora is a reference made to the Irish people and descendants living outside of Ireland. Since records began, around the year 1700, roughly 10 million people born in Ireland have at some point emigrated from The Emerald Island.
Since the award’s inauguration in 2012, all award recipients have been American politicians or American journalist. Most recent winners have included Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer and Senator Therese Murray from Massachusetts.
As a reporter, Matthews could be considered controversial and often offensive. MoveOn.org circulated a petition that received over 10,000 signatures calling for his suspension after some viewers of his television show, Hardball, expressed complaints he was biased for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential primary.
The alleged biased agenda of Matthews toward Clinton escalated after learning his wife, Kathleen Matthews, was seeking election for Maryland’s eighth district and one of Clinton’s campaign employees had donated to Matthews’ campaign.
The Daily Caller reported that MSNBC ignored the petition. Some claim that there were no real biases in the way he presented his show each night and believe him to be a credible journalist and role model with the skill to cut through lies, political rhetoric, and unique ability to get straight human answers. Others believe he engages in partisan politics.
In the words of Matthews himself, “You can’t be loved for long if you’re not feared.” Matthews is heading into his twentieth season of Hardball with Chris Matthews and his umpteenth career award for journalism.
By T. Aaron DeGeorge
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Mediaiate: MSNBC Ignores Petition Calling For Matthews’ Suspension
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