Matthews Apologizes to to West Point Cadets

(Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

(Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

BY: David Bauder

NEW YORK – MSNBC’s Chris Matthews apologized yesterday for saying that President Barack Obama had traveled to an “enemy camp” at West Point to address the nation on the war in Afghanistan.

The pundit had made the remark Tuesday during on-air analysis of Obama’s speech, noting that he saw skepticism and little enthusiasm in the faces of cadets and officers at the U.S. military academy, a place where former President Bush made a hawkish speech in 2002 before the Iraq War started.

“I didn’t see a lot of warmth in the crowd out there,” he said. “He went to maybe the enemy camp … to make his case.”

Matthews said on his show Wednesday that he had gotten “some very tough calls” from former cadets and parents of cadets, who told him the audience of military officers and officers-in-training are trained not to show the kind of emotion that he thought was lacking. He said he had no reason to assume that those in Obama’s audience were more hawkish on the war than the president.

“I’ve heard too many politicians say, `Oh, that was taken out of context,’ to explain something they wish they hadn’t sent,” he said. “Let me just say to the cadets and their parents, former cadets and everyone who cares about this country and those who defend it, I used the wrong words and, worse than that, I said something that is just not right and for that I deeply apologize.”

It’s not the first time the motor-mouthed “Hardball” host has seen his mouth get him into trouble.

He apologized in January 2008 following remarks that angered then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Matthews had said that the only reason Clinton was a senator and candidate for president “is that her husband messed around.”

Obama’s speech, his seventh prime-time address to the nation since his administration began, was carried Tuesday on 10 television networks and seen by an estimated 40.8 million people, the Nielsen Co. said.

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