Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics

Back to the USPP Election 2000 Reporters' Tipsheet

EXCERPTS from "Hardball with Chris Matthews," CNBC/MSNBC, December 1999 to April 2000, in which Matthews expresses his opinions on the so-called "Bush smirk."

"I've had . . . encounters with him. He's very nice to me. He's not so good on television. I think he does have a problem with that—people call it a smirk. I'll call it a smirk. It—he doesn't come off as a nice guy on TV as much as he does in person. In person, he's like Clinton. He's a charming politician. And that's a good thing." ("Hardball with Chris Matthews," CNBC, April 6, 2000)

"I've heard two views of the guy personally. . . . I've heard journalists who don't like him. They say he's arrogant, he's . . . a big shot, he smirks and all that stuff. You hear that from people just from watching him on TV. Then you hear the other side, from people in the family I've known over the years, and they say great guy, great brother, great son and all the things that matter in real life. . . ." ("Hardball with Chris Matthews," CNBC, March 20, 2000)

"He's had that smirk and that attitude that it's all given to him because he got—he had the right daddy and mommy." ("Hardball with Chris Matthews," CNBC, February 15, 2000)

"You know, that . . . is George W. Bush. You like him or leave him. I mean, here's a guy who has a smirk. He basically is looking down his nose at this wacky goo-goo, this League of Women Voters type he thought was bringing up all this concern about the little people, and he doesn't have any time for her. She's some lib-lab. Isn't that what he's saying with that smirk? I thought it was." ("Hardball with Chris Matthews," CNBC, January 11, 2000)

"Okay, what about the smirk? Is it a smirk, or is it just a facial expression? Is it . . . an attitude of condescension or an attitude of nothing? . . . . I think what people mean by that is . . . obvious public self-satisfaction in your response to the point of, 'I'm better than you'." ("Hardball with Chris Matthews," CNBC, December 14, 1999)

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Last updated April 09, 2000