Hardball's Chris Matthews Isn't Buying What Jack Thompson is Selling about VTU Killer

April 19, 2007 -
Despite overwhelming video evidence that Virginia Tech killer Cho Seung Hui was an angry, sociopathic lunatic, controversial Miami attorney Jack Thompson has been getting air time on national news programs this week, insisting that video games were behind Cho's rampage.

But while some talking heads let Thompson's claims go unchallenged, at least one mainstream media pundit has pointed out the flaws in the controversial attorney's argument. MSNBC's Chris Matthews had Thompson on his Hardball program last evening, an appearance touted ahead of time by Thompson in an e-mail to GamePolitics.

Of the Hardball appearance, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Peter Hartlaub writes:
Video games have already taken enough of an unwarranted hit this week. An online Washington Post report that Cho played the first person shooter Counter-Strike - which was later removed from the story - unleashed the typical of blame-the-video-games rhetoric, along with appearances from anti-game activist lawyer Jack Thompson, who should (have) learned his lesson from his embarrassing Bully fiasco...

(Hardball host Chris) Matthews more than redeemed himself... nailing Thompson down during a "Hardball" appearance and exposing the fact that Thompson had nothing to back up his claims.

While we didn't catch Thompson's Hardball appearance, comments made to GamePolitics by the anti-game attorney seem to confirm Hartlaub's impression:
Typical Chris Matthews, which is why he is repeatedly made sport of on SNL. You survive Hardball, which I did.

Kotaku has video. From the show transcript:

MATTHEWS:  I asked the (killer's) suite mate... He said there was... not a strong subculture of violent video games.  And they had no real evidence that... Cho Seung-Hui, was one of these kids involved with that sort of game. 

THOMPSON:  Well, they are inconsistent in their comments, Chris...

MATTHEWS:  Well, they didn‘t see any evidence of that... Tell me about “Counter-Strike,” because it‘s a strong theory of yours.  What is it? 

THOMPSON:  Well, it‘s not a theory.

MATTHEWS:  Well, it‘s a theory that it had something to do with this case. 

THOMPSON:  That‘s right... His own suite mates in Blacksburg said that he was on the computer all the time.  He wasn‘t downloading music.  He was playing this game. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, we have — that‘s not what we just heard... We just talked to his—one of his suite mates, who said...

THOMPSON:  He doesn‘t know.

MATTHEWS:  ... when he looked on the screen, he said he just saw him writing linear English, just writing...

THOMPSON:  When he looked on the screen... Chris, you can‘t do something this well the first time you do it.  And the fact is, it wasn‘t the first time.  He was in a hyper-reality situation, in virtual reality...

MATTHEWS: How does the game prepare or drill him in the execution of 32 people? 

THOMPSON:  It drills you and gives you scenarios on how to  kill them.  It gets you to kill with your heart rate lower... 

MATTHEWS:  I know it is a theory.  And it is a theory in this case. When was the most recent testimony, and when is it applied to, that he was involved with “Counter-Strike,” the video game, that Cho was? 

THOMPSON:  Cho?  His high school friends.  And, typically, when...

MATTHEWS: OK.  Well, he is a fourth-year student at Virginia Tech.  


The basic laws of politics say if you make a point and don't any way to back it up, it will show and you will be tarred, feathered and beaten.

Well I made that last part up but it's what happens. *gets the tar vat out for Jack*

@ BudgetMessiah

Yes, I was being ironic and sarcastic. And, yes, it is true men are more likely to commit crime than women. All the same, that doesn't mean all men are criminals. Also, many women have committed horrible crimes (the one who drowned her children in the bath-tub; some women killers are known collectively as Black Widows because they marry than kill their husbands and repeat). Most states have prisons strictly for women. Like you stated there is a difference between correlation and causation.

So even if JT were right about the guy playing games, at all, that wouldn't mean that games made him kill anyone. After-all there have been multiple people who have killed or had people killed without games influencing them or playing them. Hitler or Cleopatra for example.

man its always entertaining reading jacky boy's emails.

hmmm maybe i should find a shooting range place around here and test this theory about games training you to use guns since in 2 days i've aquired 1256 kills In gta 3

I'm rather glad Jack is spear-heading the Blame Games movement, nothing says failure like Jack Thompson.

MSNBC had an article about the Hardball episode...
"The shooting on the Virginia Tech campus was only hours old, police hadn't even identified the gunman, and yet already the perpetrator had been fingered and was in the midst of being skewered in the media. Video games.... Or so Jack Thompson told Fox News and, in the days that followed, would continue to tell anyone who'd listen. "

You might have survived Hardball, but your integrity died.

You know Jack could be debunked by an interviewer simply asking him what's Counter strikes really about.

@Starsmore -- thanks for that tidbit. So, basically, Jack saw it first in print, and even though it was rescinded it's now "FACT!" for him. This doesn't surprise me.

I can't believe Jack Thompson is STUPID enough to post an open letter to Bill Gates, calling for him to "pull the plug" on Counter-Strike, when Microsoft doesn't have anything to do with the game!

Jack, I dunno if you can read this, but here's a few facts for you:

1.) Counter-Strike was originally a free-to-download mod to the critically acclaimed FPS game HalfLife, made by Valve.

2.) Counter-Strike Source, the sequel to Counter-Strike, was made by the CS team now on Valve's payroll. It is a mod for HalfLife 2, and is called "Source" because that is the name of the game Engine, in order to differentiate it from its predecessor.

How about you do a little research next time, eh? You can't make good arguments if you don't know your subject matter, and you obviously don't. This whole open letter thing? A waste of time.

Oh, and for anyone who doesn't know what I'm talking about, my above post is relevant to this artcle:


Can't drop counter strike? What utter nonsense. It took me about 2 years to finally realize what an over played game it was, but thats why I switched to DoD.

Well, the fact is that video games cause violence.
Well, the fact is that Cho probably played Counterstrike when no one was looking.
Well, the fact is that gamers are illiterate, overweight losers who spend all their free time in the dark in front of a screen.
Well, the fact is that animation and video games are only for the kiddies.
Well, the fact is that the White album contained secret messages intended solely to be interpreted by Charles Manson.
Well, the fact is that Kirk is better than Picard.
Well, the fact is that green peppers are incredibly nasty.
Well, the fact is that Rock n' Roll is corrupting the youth of the nation with all its girations and double entendres and so on.
Well, the fact is that the sun goes around the earth.
Well, the fact is that I am 100% correct about absolutely everything ever.

Just making sure all the facts are straight.

"The bad news for the Post however is that you can still get the excised excerpt at [broken URL]. Thus, the cat is out of the bag, and his paw prints are still on the bag. Is this a great Internet, or what?"

"[...]Robert Steinhaeuser, who literally trained on the Microsoft on-line, hyper-violent shooter game, Counterstrike. I mentioned your company’s game by name."

Yep. The tubes of the ebays are a great thing. Well played, Laddy Jack. Well played.

"Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it."

That's JT's M.O.

Does anyone know who that quote is attributed to?

It seems like Jack Thompson has found his next target. His battle against T2 probably not "epic" enough for his taste, everyone's favorite "school shooting expert" has decided to take on Bill Gates. Who he blames in part for the VTU shootings by the way.

..eww double post.

But I did tack down the URL, by following back to Game Almighty. Apparently Laddy Jack does have some trouble understanding the ebays. And the idea of a browser cache.

Sorry Laddy Jack, that article doesn't make reference to Microsoft-published Counterstrike. Not that I can imagine why it was excised. It couldn't possibly be because investigators found no games at all in the shooter's room. Or that the statement was flat out inaccurate to begin with.

No no. I'm sure that the Post is in on the grand conspiracy. Are the Gettys involved with the Post? Because, you know, they're in... The Pentavirate. It's a well known fact, Laddy Jack, that there's a secret society of the five wealthiest people in the world, known as The Pentavirate, who run everything in the world, including the newspapers, and meet tri-annually at a secret country mansion in Colorado, known as The Meadows.

@ Hackangel

He's more than welcome to go after Microsoft. Gates and his army of lawyers will chew him up and spit him out faster than you can say Jack Robinson.

I guess at this point it's dawning on him that his crusade and his career are coming to an end and he figures, "If I'm going to go, I'll go out in style." And going up against Bill Gates has kamikaze run written all over it.

"Banzai!" Jack.

Wow... Well I can say that Jack has a knack for saying the same damned piece of evidence over and over again. I counted about 3 times (not 100% sure) that "the FBI and Secret Service found a common denominator in all school shootings, video games". That is completely false, troubled students have been shooting others long before the birth of Pong.

Every time I hear him rant on using the same false evidence, I wonder... "Who believes this BS??" I never really form a bias towards anything unless the evidence is overwhelming, and nothing that Jack has said showed that video games have ANYTHING to do with some guy going insane and killing 1-2 dozens of people.

Lastly, how can Counter-Strike teach you how to lower your heart rate? No simulation can imitate the recoil, sound, and feel of a real gun. People don't die with a grunt and fall, they remain alive for a short while, begging for their lives. There is no game that can match that gruesome reality.

I wonder if Jack can go any lower than this. But hey, he has the balls to do anything, but no brains or info to back it up.


I'm surprised that Thompson didn't accuse Matthews of being a gamer. It seems every time someone opposes Mr. Thompson's viewpoint, they are instantly considered a gamer in his mind, and thus not worth his time.

Thompson is just an A$$hole trying to gain more controversial fame. As a gamer we should just stick to what we do best, gaming. Trying to blame video games for Cho's actions, is like blaming spoons for making people fat.

So - Thomson's arguement is:
1) The game must have caused him to snap because we know from the past that games cause people to snap....

It's a circular argument - no backup. It MUST be true according to Thompson, and doesn't need to be proven - because he argued it in the past without proving it.

He also states that 80% of college males play games like this - but they're not out shooting people.. I really don't think this guy lives in the same world as the rest of us.

(or has ever played Counterstrike - which is a game where you kill terrorists....)



Not sure if you were trying to be ironic, but there is definitely a correlation between having a penis and the commission of violent crime. Men are many times more likely to murder than women, for example. But the point remains, correlation is not the same thing as causality. No one's suggesting that we ban the Y chromosome...so far.

[...] I despise Jack Thompson and those who fight against the video game industry with nothing to back up their arguments. But I LOVE when they get TOTALLY busted in public for being jackholes (half jack ass/half asshole). If you’ve been keeping up with the news, you’ve heard about Cho Seung Hui who massacred 32 people at Virginia Tech. And if you’ve seen any of the videos or read his letters you know how bat shit this guy is. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, it came out that this guy played Counter-Strike. Of course the misguided media mob latched onto that and blamed the video game for Cho’s rage. Fortunately, Chris Matthews challenged and debunked Thompson’s theories. Kotaku has the clip and GamePolitics.com features an excellent chunk of transcript. [...]

For someone that is an "expert" in this type of field he sure doesnt know games well at all.

Counter-strike is a game were TERROIST and COUNTER TERROIST fight each other out. I think thats a pretty noble kind of game(depending on side) but still he doesnt explain it well.

The best part about the whole interview was at the end when he said that one kid trained on SCMRPG. That games graphics is compairable to poke'mon for the gameboy. How does that train someone for real life killing?

"Typical Chris Matthews, which is why he is repeatedly made sport of on SNL. You survive Hardball, which I did."

Meaning life or credibility here? Because I don't think the latter did.

"Typical Chris Matthews, which is why he is repeatedly made sport of on SNL. You survive Hardball, which I did."

Chris Matthews didn't need to play much Hardball to make Jacky Boy look foolish.

So Jacky Boy didn't survive at all.




“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”

Hmm... that kinda-sorta sounds like the concept of "The Big Lie".

Anyway, I watched that little Hardball clip...

Matthews: "You don't know that, though!"

That line alone pretty much blew half of Thompson's bullcrap out of the water. (*thumbs up to Chris Matthews!*)

What do you mean people can't drop Counterstrike? I played it for a while, and I don't play it anymore.


"Typical Chris Matthews, which is why he is repeatedly made sport of on SNL."

Am I the only one who detected a hint of jealousy in this statement?

Let's break it down. Chris Matthews is parodied on SNL because he is SOMEBODY. Jack, conversely, is not parodied on SNL (or even MADtv for that matter) because he is NOBODY!

And that, boys and girls, is what angers Jack more than anything else; the fact that he isn't more famous. One need only look at his media grandstanding to know the man is an attention starved publicity whore with an ego more fragile than his legal knowledge.

Poor Jack. Only a few people know who is, and those that do think he's retarded (my apologies to the mentally challenged for comparing you to Jack Thompson).

OK, people i agree with Jer and counter strike is such a just plain fun game thats why this disturbed freak was glued to his computer. I do the same thing. And matthews, YOU OWN! i couldnt put it better myself!

I'm not a huge fan of Matthews but I applaud him for this. JT is just exploiting this horrible tragedy to promote his own agenda. You would think he would have the decency to stop exploiting horrible tragedies like this to further his own twisted views of morality, but it is nice to see that some have the balls to stand up to this

So his heart-rate was low because games taught him to be a calm killer? WTF!? Whenever I play a game with fast-paced action my heart-rate tends to increase. Especially when you fight that really hard boss and its such a close match that one mistake will cause you to lose or you're playing a friend in a game and you are even match for each other. What do you guys do when you win/lose? I usually sigh, it's time to wind down. It was stressful!

Wait did Thompson just say they were inconsistent with their comments? Pot calling the kettle black me thinks.

I'm still kinda worried. They didn't find any games with the search warrant but we don't know what the CDs were and what is on his PC. Like Jack said, probably 80% of college students play games. That's a pretty good chance that he does. Still, even if he never talked to his roommates, it's likely they would know if he played games. I doubt he'd try to hide it.

This just in! I don't mean to alarm you, but... the killer had a penis. Now, we'd like to advise that parents watch their children with penises, as we still aren't sure what effect this has on them. If you need a control we recommend that you compare them to the children without them. If there are any major differences in personality or behavior, we advise you to contact a doctor or psychiatric professional.

@ InsidiousMrMoo
Thats like someone arguing with you about what you ate for breakfast. “I had a poptart” JT: “No, you had waffles and bacon.”

Damn, that was funny. I think I'll start using this with my friends. :P

@ Keaton2008
I get what you're saying, but i think that's part of the joke.

MSN reported that the Cho actually went to a shooting range to practice.

Chris Matthews actually played Hardball with JT? I'm shocked... mostly because it seems like Chris was actually playing Hardball. Way to go Mister Matthews! Its about time someone (other than everyone else) pointed out all the big holes in JT's logic.

"Thats like someone arguing with you about what you ate for breakfast. “I had a poptart” JT: “No, you had waffles and bacon.” "

I laughed at this very hard, thank you.

Because nobody's ever been able to coldly and methodically kill people without the use of video games to train them. Right...

then i must be broken since i have yet to snap and kill people?

hey! maybe my hilary duff cd's have magical powers!


ahhhhh he he ok i get it now (lol sorry for that blonde moment)

There is a poker show on, check your local FSN listings, called Mansion Poker played in a "Poker Dome" that has players sitting with heartrate monitors on them. I mention this because people with a need to control their outward appearance, such as the guy who just got a flush or the guy on a bluff, can look outwardly calm while their pulse races well into the triple digits. To say you can measure heartrate by looking at a film of them is ludicrous at best. While his pulse could have been racing, honestly it could go either way with someone this nuts, it's all guesses.


> Duffy’s confused?

Gamers have him outnumbered and there are only so many hours in which a single man can fabricate falsehoods.


As Starsmore said, the washington post orginally did mention counterstike but took it down... From what i gather, the reason for this is because they did find out that Cho played counterstike, however they later realized that the information they had was about Cho back when he was in high school... meaning they found out he played counterstike about 3 or so years ago, but they didn't know if he was still playing the game in recent years; so they revised the article... With the information they had, they could say that he used to play counterstike, but not that he currently played countersrike...

In this interview, Jack in his desperate attempt to pin this on video games is relying on that old information to claim that Cho still played counterstike in his college years, claiming that gamers don't just stopped doing those kinds of things... ofcourse, i know from personal experience that a gamer can just stop like Cho did... i used to OBSECIVELY play MMO's when i was in high school, but over the summer before i went to college, i stopped playing MMOs... i figured it was for the best... grant it, now even when the police have said that they didn't find any video games, Jack still makes the claim he was a counterstike player... Man, this is sounding a lot like that time with Robia, when Jack once again countiued to claim video games as the blame despite there not being any evidence of a such... i wonder how long it will be until he claims Cho desposed of the games before he went nuts...

Really, Jack even ingores the words of Cho's roomates... sure they didn't know Cho personally, but all they had to do was look over at his computer screen to find out what he was doing... They saw that he was always doing stuff like writing, not playing games like counterstike


Wait... what?

Jack Thompson makes more lies than gamers make insults about him.

Kotaku: FALSE
It's the other way round.


Jack Thompson makes more lies than gamers make insults about him.

Kotaku: FALSE
It’s the other way round.



Duffy's confused?

sorry to double post but Hell yea i just heard jack get ripped into and damn was that nice.

god this is so mind numbing right now but im going to finish it and i still think its all bs.

last night i went to eb games and bought yugioh (laugh if u want) and Gta 3 again (i think thats already my 6th copy of the game since i sell it when i need money) but im already at 528 kills all from last night and this morning.

so if these games "train" you to kill then why havent i lost it yet?

cause its Freaking BullS***

I am an advid Counter strike player, i play both installment, which are Coutner-Strike 1.6 and Coutner Strike:Source. I am 16 and people that my age is the key age in which video games affect people. People need to start understanding that a video game only affects the people who cant tell real from the unreal. I log in about 40 hours a week playing both of those games, i have never had the impulse to kill anyone in my life. You cannot blame things like this on video games. I would like to bring up one more thing about this guy playing Coutner Strike and it affecting him. There are leagues, professional leagues that are on T.V. of people playing these games, how can u say a game casued this when there are millions of people playing them, and some are even making money just becasue they are god at them.

"Actually, both the youth protection law and the gun law got changed in Germany after the Erfurt shooting."

Although Thompsom kinda wants to angle it towards laws against violent entertainment. (I know, he didn't say it out loud...but we all know how the man thinks...well we dont...but we can presume.)

It baffles me that Thompson can't even see how irrational he's being about this - which, of course, is one of the hallmarks of being irrational.

He claims to know what Cho was doing, claiming to quote Cho's roommates, even though the roommates' own statements flatly and COMPLETELY contradict what Thompson is claiming.

I'm mildly disappointed that TakeTwo dropped their Contempt of Court suit against Thompson, but I didn't REALLY expect it to go all the way to a ruling, in the first place.

I don't have a problem with Thompson disliking violence in videogames... everyone's entitled to their opinion. But when he outright fabricates "facts," lies about things, and twists the facts to suit his claims... that's simply not acceptible, and he NEEDS to be held accountable for it as long as he tries to put himself forth as a Court Expert on the matter.

I am glad to see this exchange take place. It makes JT seem like the raving lunatic he is. Matthews constantly presented evidence and asked Thompson for evedence. Every time Matthews presented evidence, Thopson shot it down as unfounded or as an opinion. Every time Thompson was asked for evidence, he simply restated what he previously said.

I am starting to see a beautiful trend here.

My friend was in the ROTC until he hurt his ankle and they disqualified him. I went with him for target practice one day (the first time i had fired any kind of gun) and he went through a bunch of safety stuff first and the showed me how. And guess what? I sucked at it. I couldnt hit anything close to a target and it was real awkward holding and firing the gun. Seems odd that playing counter strike for 5 years did not do such a thorough job of "training" me to kill (not to mention Halo, GOldeneye, Perfect Dark, DoD, etc...)

For Pete's sake, clicking a mouse at an imaginary picture on a screen. This trains people how to kill? Enough already.
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Andrew EisenWouldn't surprise me. A lot of words' actual meanings escape many people on the internet.07/29/2015 - 11:17pm
Andrew EisenSo, "they must be held accountable" means "we must hurt them for publishing an opinion piece we don't like."07/29/2015 - 11:17pm
Mattsworknameor me thats demanding accountability on this, it's the ones who undertook the actiosn against these sites and went after the advertisers07/29/2015 - 11:13pm
MattsworknameJust cause you or I disagree with there response, they still feel they have a right to hold Groups like kotaku, gamasutra, Gawker, ET all, to account for what they felt was a vile and inappropriate action. Regardless of your or my view on it, it's nto you07/29/2015 - 11:13pm
Mattsworknamebetrayed or insulted by the articles in question, then they will feel a need to hold those media groups, regardless of intent, to account for that action, be it right or wrong.07/29/2015 - 11:12pm
MattsworknameAndrew: :target audience or not, if a large enough portion of our audience has a given view point Andrew, then you risk aggrivating that audience at your own peril. your question has been answer. if a large enough part of a media groups audience felt07/29/2015 - 11:11pm
Andrew EisenMy original question (which I've posed to you four or five times now) still stands.07/29/2015 - 11:04pm
Andrew EisenMatt - Yes, non-industry folk are welcome to and do read Gamasutra. That doesn't change the fact that they're not the site's target audience. Which wasn't my point anyway, merely an offered clarification as you keep referring to it like it's IGN.07/29/2015 - 11:04pm
MattsworknameNo different then GG ttrying to get Vox, Kotaku, gawker, and other such sties to fold cause they disagree, it's not right, but it's also the most common and most widely used of methods now adays.07/29/2015 - 10:21pm
MattsworknameTechnogeek: No, there isn't, you or I have no right to say someone cant say something, no matter how much we may dislike it. Even if you hate what they said, they have a right to say it. trying to shut someone down cause you don[t like what they say, is07/29/2015 - 10:20pm
Mattsworknameexamples of movments like what happend with those articles that occured with other, much bigger incidents.07/29/2015 - 10:18pm
Mattsworknameto the articles posted on gamsutra and elsewhere with such intensity. As i've pointed out, we have plenty of examples of this same exact actions taken by other groups. As I pointed out, this kinda thing happens alot now, and I can share some big07/29/2015 - 10:18pm
MattsworknameAndrew, sorry for taking so long to reply, been busy all day. To answer you queston, you keep pointing out gamasutra was popular with industry folks. Yes thats true, but it had a BIG following among game enthusists and they were among those that responded07/29/2015 - 10:16pm
PHX CorpWhile I Wait for Freedom planet for the Wii U, I'm fighting my way through Mario Tennis 64 as practice for Mario Tennis Ultra Smash(Mario tennis HD) and Prep SSBWiiU/3DS for More DLC07/29/2015 - 10:04pm
Goth_SkunkTake this with a grain of salt, but I'm hearing that in order to play Solitaire in Windows 10, you have to pay a monthly fee of $1.50.07/29/2015 - 9:28pm
Andrew EisenPHX - Yep, we linked that interview last week. http://gamepolitics.com/2015/07/24/gearbox-founder-has-nothing-praise-aliens-colonial-marines-duke-nukem-forever07/29/2015 - 8:42pm
Matthew WilsonI did a clean install, and have had no issues, it seems they got this right07/29/2015 - 7:43pm
PHX Corphttp://www.gamnesia.com/news/randy-pitchford-on-aliens-criticism-it-depends-on-what-criteria-youre-using oh look, More Randy pitchford Shooting himself in the foot again07/29/2015 - 7:43pm
Craig R.And even then, I'd say upgrade, make your backup media, and then do a clean install07/29/2015 - 7:29pm
Craig R.Personally, I'm recommending people wait 2-3 months at least before upgrading07/29/2015 - 7:29pm

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