Tonight on Hardball, Chris Matthews corrected a whopping error that he made last night, but his correction didn’t go far enough toward setting the record straight. Last night, Matthews said:
MATTHEWS: Let me go over to Jim VandeHei. Former President Bush, the father the current president, was an old spook. He was the head of the CIA, he’s a strong believer in the privacy or rather the need for the security of these agents who are undercover.
When Joe Wilson was first involved in this case, he got a letter from former President Bush praising him and apologizing for the fact that his wife had been outed as an undercover agent. What happens here in terms of the basic — I hate to use the word ethics, it sounds like an office issue — profound ethics of uncovering (ph) the identity of an agent.
MATTHEWS: Last night, I said, by the way, that former President Bush had written a letter to Joe Wilson praising him for his service and sympathizing with him for the outing of his wife’s CIA identity. In fact, Wilson got his letter of praise from former President Bush eight months before his wife was outed. The former president’s condemnation of those who leak the names of CIA agents, however, which I also referred to, came even earlier, in his 1999 address at the naming of the new agency headquarters.
Matthews correction doesn’t go far enough in correcting his error. He failed to mention that Bush’s statements in that address were directed toward a specific class of traitor — those, like ex-CIA officer Phillip Agee, who make it their lives’ work to expose as many CIA officials and agents as possible in order to undermine the CIA’s intelligence-gathering capabilities and harm the United States. I’ve written about this lack of context when it’s occurred on Hardball before. Last time, Hardball declined to make any correction at all, so I suppose Matthews should be applauded for at least attempting it this time.Clips of both the error and correction here.