Chris Matthews: Teddy Kennedy Molested Judge Alito’s Wife

On yesterday’s “Hardball,” Chris Matthews uttered the following words:

…won’t they say something up beat and (bucking up)… isn’t she a great woman, didn’t she stand up-and then they’ll put the camera right on Ted Kennedy and show how he was the guy that molested her basically-that’s the way they’ll play it…

According to John Amato, who has the video, the “she” was Mrs. Alito. He comments, “One day it’s Latinos in their flower shops and bodegas and the next it’s sexual assault.”

Matt Stoler emulates Kennedy’s analytical style:

This is journalism? Making light of the sexual abuse of women on national TV? And accusing a sitting US Senator of the offense, to boot (and no suprise it was a Democratic Senator).

TurboTax, Toyota, Verizon, Bayer, Pearl Vision, Office Depot and all the rest: Are you listening?

This is what your ads are paying to support – a guy who thinks nothing of accusing Ted Kennedy of molesting Alito’s wife. A guy who thinks sexual abuse and gay bashing is funny. Think about that, then think about why you continue to associate your brand with this man and his show.


Let’s look at the key part of the transcript: “molested her basically.” Now, unless “basically” is a new euphemism for a female body part, Matthews is not saying that Kennedy literally molested Mrs. Alito. “Basically” is modifying “molested” in a cross between a metaphor and a simile.

American idioms are difficult for those who do not speak it as a first language. So, to avoid future confusion:

    In the phrase, “Kennedy raked Alito over the coals” no rakes or coals are involved.

    “Alito emerged from the hearings battered and bruised but still standing” — No physical battering or bruising occured and he was probably sitting the whole time.

    “Kennedy made a complete ass of himself” — No actual donkeys or buttocks were involved

As you can see, this can be quite confusing.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Mark says:

    Yes, it would have been hilaious to see the reaction if Matthews said something like “he left Alito’s wife drowning in her own tears.”

    But, I am noticing that on the bigger left-wing sites they are really going after not only Matthews, but Russert and any other journalist who is not strictly adhering to the Democratic party line. I know they have been doing this, but as of late it has really intensified.

  2. ICallMasICM says:

    Actually I give Matthews the benefit of the doubt on this. Obviously it was hyperbole, maybe innappropriate but nonetheless hyperbole. It’s infotainment – whaddaya want? He’s on for an hour a day, 5 days a week and has horrible ratings. It’s a screamfest and he wants to attract viewers.

  3. G A PHILLIPS says:

    Not confusing at all. just another liberal twisting words to protect another liberal from the truth.If the shoe fits, it must fit you, unless you are a libreal then it only fits if you whant it to. Dang, Do you see what I have been going on about, the P.C. holy fighters are going to attack the way one writes or speaks, creativly under their soon to be writen, and all ready sacred law of hatespeach, even one of their own. This is the land of free speach, not the land of what the libreals think is ok at time to get them somewhere speach. This has happened before….do you rememder….Lot of pepole died….about 75 years ago…..ringing any bells….

  4. david says:

    You can’t have a corrupt lobbyist without a corrupt member or a corrupt staffer on the other end.”

    — Newt Gingrich (R), quoted by The Fix, on the Abramoff scandal.

  5. dougrc says:

    “Kennedy made a complete ass of himself” — No actual donkeys or buttocks were involved

    Though you do have to admit that if Rose was delivering baby Teddy in his present form, it would be a toss-up as to which end the doctor would slap…and maybe which Kennedy he would slap!