Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Saturday, February 16, 2019

‘Hardball with Chris Matthews’ comes to AU

MSNBC host discusses presidential power with guests and students

‘Hardball with Chris Matthews’ comes to AU

“Hardball with Chris Matthews” taped live at the Greenberg Theatre in Tenleytown on Thursday night as part of the “Hardball College Tour,” a series that travels to different colleges across the country to discuss politics with students and politicians alike.

The special guests at Thursday’s show were Sen. Chris Murphy, Women’s March coordinator Janaye Ingram, intelligence and international terrorism expert Malcolm Nance, republican political consultant John Brabender, journalist and historian Evan Thomas and 2016 Democratic National Convention speaker Palestinian-American Khizr Khan, who spoke last year about the dangers of President Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric.

The theme of the show was power and the presidency, and the discussion focused on assessing the first two weeks of President Trump’s term. Some main points of conversation were the Muslim ban and immigration, as well as how Trump’s administration seems to be highly opposed to any resistance or disagreement.

For Thursday’s taping, AU students were able to sit on stage and in the audience as they participated in the town hall-style segment. Students had the opportunity to write down questions which were later presented to Matthews and his guests throughout the show.

“We started this about 15 years ago,” Matthews told The Eagle after the show in regards to the background of the event. “The crowd here tonight at American was great, very passionate.”

The show began with a pre-recorded interview of Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, which Matthews had taped earlier that day at the White House. Matthews was then joined on stage by Murphy to discuss the recent immigration ban as well as the Trump administration’s warning against State Department dissent. Matthews and Sen. Murphy were joined by Ingram to discuss recent protests across the country.

“I think we’ve seen over months and years this push and this pain, essentially, around reproductive health care, around criminal justice issues and police brutality, and around people being burdened by this and eventually, that has to hit a point,” Ingram said. “We as women are inherently intersectional. We are born intersectional. We are not single-issue people.”

Many audience members expressed anger towards the current administration, booing during Conway’s interview or when the discussion was focusing on the Trump administration’s most recent moves. Matthews said afterwards that even though many AU students are upset with the outcome of the election, they cannot give up.

“Democracy doesn’t end election night. There’s so many ways to influence policy; write a letter to the paper, an op-ed article, use the pen. A lot of it’s ‘Saturday work,’” Matthews told The Eagle after the show. “It comes down to Saturday. My wife ran for Congress and I had to go over and say hello to the volunteers, and I remember telling them that it’s really important for democracy that you get up Saturday mornings and get out there and hoof it… people like to see positive activism.”

The show concluded with a panel made up of Khan, Nance, Matthews, Brabender and Thomas. Matthews addressed Khan about the immigration ban recently enacted by the Trump administration and asked him how he felt about it.

“Chris, I was disappointed. I was hoping election rhetoric, divisive rhetoric, would end after the election and the Republican Party and their candidate will move on to governing this country and bringing it together but seeds of division were sowed,” Khan said.

When Matthews sat down with The Eagle, he referenced a statement made by Sen. Murphy during the show, in which Sen. Murphy said, “we’re going to challenge, but not undermine” the Trump administration.

“I want government to work,” Matthews said. “I don’t want to have people just satisfied with negativity. And I know that the Republicans were negative… I think it was awful what they did. They said they were going to undermine him.”

Matthews said that completely refusing to work with the Trump administration would be ineffective and wouldn’t accomplish anything.

“The trouble with the ‘revenge model’ is that it never ends. I can see all this anger and it just keeps going back… it’s a clan war,” Matthews said. “I think we need some government action, I think people in this city need to put things together, I think we need infrastructure. And I don’t want to see wars.”

Never miss a story.

Get our weekly newsletter in your inbox.