Zell Miller Explains Feud with Chris Matthews

Zell Miller illuminates his feud with Chris Matthews

Former Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga.) had a beef with “Hardball†host Chris Matthews before he ever appeared on the show immediately after his fiery speech at the Republican National Convention last year.

The famously disloyal Democrat reveals in his new book, A Deficit of Decency, that before telling Matthews he wished he could challenge him to a duel, he had long “detested†Matthews’s “know-it-all attitude and his bullying way of interviewing.†And earlier that evening, Matthews’s fellow MSNBC pundit Ron Reagan called Miller “kind of weird,†while Matthews himself had referred to Miller as an “old-time seggy,†meaning segregationist — a characterization Miller vehemently disputes.

And one that’s completely unfounded, too, given Miller’s huge support among Georgia’s black voters.

If that speech was successful, it was a failure in one regard: Miller says he attempts to be “conversational†in television speeches, as if he’s talking to his granddaughter. “But I’ve never been able to do it,†he writes. “So Marine recruit Miller marched out onto that stage, stood at attention, and delivered for the drill instructor in my head who bellows, ‘Speak up, private, I can’t hear you.’â€

Conversational, it wasn’t. Indeed, I was quite worried that it would be perceived like Pat Buchanan’s 1992 stemwinder. Fortunately, his stern delivery was mostly taken as a grandfather’s righteous indignation rather than an extremist’s lunancy.

FILED UNDER: 2004 Election, Media, , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Phil Davis says:

    Above, you dismiss the MP defector as “So, this is some disgruntled old coot who’s not even going to be in Parliament.”

    Zell Miller is “some disgruntled old coot who’s not even going to be in Senate. “

  2. Jack Tanner says:

    Ron Reagan called someone ‘kind of weird’!?!?

  3. James Joyner says:

    Phil: Not sure there’s much connection. The UK has a parliamentary system, so party unity is the bedrock of the system. Whether Zell Miller was going to run for re-election really had nothing to do with Bush’s ability to govern.

  4. Phil Davis says:

    I doubt, James, that Zell Miller had any impact on the election at all. Disgruntled old coots seldom do. Just a side show.

  5. McGehee says:

    Admittedly, Bush didn’t need Zell’s help in Georgia.

    Or Texas, or Virginia, or Ohio…