Follow the Bouncing Hardball

J$P Extra! Hardball sticks to its policy on running ads. Except when they don't. Updated!

August 20, 2004. Hardball on MSNBC discusses, among other things, the swiftboat ads. In the course of the discussion, Andrea Mitchell plays a snippet from the latest advertisement, but cuts it off after a few seconds. Her explanation:

ANDREA MITCHELL: Here is a portion of the new ad. We‘re not going to show you the whole thing, because they have not bought time yet.

We remember it as "they haven't bought time", period. But we'll accept the network's official version of what was said. So now flash forward to September 8, 2004, and Hardball is discussing a new ad about President Bush's National Guard service:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: The tv ad will run in swing states hardest hit by the US service personnel killed in Iraq. Let's take a look at the ad.

At this point Hardball runs the ad. Not a portion of it, but the entire ad. What happened to the policy of a few weeks ago? The "Texans for Truth" have certainly not bought time on MSNBC to run their ad. Matthews himself says that the ad will run (future tense), and not that it is running anywhere. And the website for the group that produced the ad has this plea on their front page:

Click here to contribute and help us get this ad on the air!

So the ad is not running, and nobody has bought time. Hardball claimed that was the reason they could only show a snippet of the swiftboat ad, but the new anti-Bush ad appears and Hardball's "policy" is completely reversed and they play the whole thing. Is the earlier statement now inoperative?

We have emailed Hardball on this issue and will update our readers in the unlikely event that a response is received.

Update: On September 16 Hardball showed a new DNC advertisement, and of course it ran in its entirety. After running it, Chris Matthews said:

MATTHEWS: We show these ads from both sides; I think we're keeping it even.

Still not response to our email.

posted: Wed - September 8, 2004 at 07:59 PM       j$p  send