"You don't know anything. You don't know what you are talking about.”
— Chris Matthews to Kevin James
On May 15, 2008, James appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews, debating with Mark Green of Air America Radio to discuss remarks made by George W. Bush's speech to the Israeli Knesset in which the president drew a comparison between Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler in World War II with Barack Obama's expressed willingness to meet with leaders of U.S. adversaries.
After James vigorously supported Bush's comparison, Chris Matthews asked James for a "history check", asking James "What exactly did Chamberlain do wrong?" Frustrated by what Matthews perceived as James' inability to demonstrate any knowledge of the period, Matthews went on to repeat the question a total of 28 times. Finally with James' admittance of "I don't know," Matthews accused James of being a "blank slate" who didn't know anything about history. Matthews ended by telling James "When you are going to make a direct historical reference, get it straight," and then likened James to White House spokesman Dana Perino, who in an appearance on NPR's radio program Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me admitted she had had no idea what the Cuban Missile Crisis was.
Update: Crooks & Liars has a rough, partial transcript of the video:
Chris: I want to do a little history check on you—what did Neville Chamberlain do wrong in 1939? What did he do wrong?
Kevin: It all goes back to appeasement. It’s the key term.
Chris: No, what did he do, tell me what he did?
Kevin: It’s the key term.
Chris: You have to answer this question. What did he do?
Kevin: It’s the same thing, it puts it all…
Chris: Well tell me what he did?
Kevin: It’s appeasement.
Chris: What did Chamberlain do wrong..
Kevin: His actions, his actions enabled, energized, legitimized
Chris: What did Chamberlain do?
Kevin: It’s the exact same thing.
Chris: No stop, Kevin. I’m not going to continue with this interview unless you answer what that thing is. What did Chamberlain do in ‘39, tell me? ‘38?
Kevin: Chris, it’s the exact same thing alright?
Chris: What did he do?
What did he do!
Kevin: '38, '39 Chris what year do you want?
Chris: What did he do? I want you to answer, what did Chamberlain?
Kevin: He’s talking, He’s talking about appeasement.
Chris: What did Chamberlain do, just tell me what he did, Kevin? What did Chamberlain do that you didn’t like?
Kevin: What, what Chamberlain did?
What, what, the President was talking about, you just said the President was talking about Barack. Look…
Chris: You’re making a reference to the days before our involvement in WWII. When the war in Europe began. I want you to tell me as an expert, what did Chamberlain do wrong.
Kevin: You’re not going to box me in here, Chris. President Bush was making that. I’m glad, I’m glad.
Chris: You don’t know, do you? You don’t know what Neville Chamberlain did
Kevin: Yeah, he was an appeaser, Chris….
Chris: You are BS’ing me… You don’t know what you’re talking about.