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.  


Since JT can no longer harass T2 or R*, I'm guessing VALVe is his next target.
A Few things wrong with JT's statements:
1.Since when in Counter Strike do you shoot innocent people.
2. JT said one school shooter trained on super columbine massacre RPG (I think it was the red lake shooting?)That game has no training value whatsoever. If someone can train to massacre a school by playing SCMRPG, I can train to be in the army by playing super mario brothers.
3. (from Kotaku after JT's interview on FOX the day of the shooting) JT said video games was the only common denominator to school shootings. Kotaku said there were 27 common denominators, and that video games were considered pretty low on the threat scale compared to the others.

Is Thompson trying to shoot himself in the foot now?

@ DoggySpew

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

I wonder if Thompson will add "This year Jack Thompson went on 'Hardball with Chris Matthews' and got totally owned" to all of this ranting press releases.

Just an FYI, but during the interview Jack says the Washington Post revealed that Cho played Counterstrike during his high school years and that his friends from high school said so. I've been perusing washingtonpost.com and couldn't find word one of this, including in the huge article profiling Cho's past. If anyone can find the link where the Washington Post states this, please post it. Otherwise I'm to believe Jack is just talking out of his ass again.

Sorry to double post, but I just saw the video message he left on the news.

"[Thanks to you] I die like Jesus Christ."

Now be honest, anti-gaming enthusiasts. If he had said Carl Johnson instead, would you be looking to ban San Andreas?

And (My kingdom for an edit button) that previous post I'll go ahead and point out was to point out the silliness of Thompson's heart rate statement.

I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if good ol' Jacky boy convinced some random person to call the Washington Post and claim they knew Cho and that he did play the game Counter-strike. Apparently that one-line excerpt from an article that has since been altered to no longer include the statement was all he needed to get rolling with his typical anti-gaming rhetoric. It would also further explain why the Post removed that excerpt of the story, due to it not being credible or grounded in reality.

I can't believe this. A new low for the anti-gaming crowd. Someone who was more into literature than anthing else. And the report didn't even turn up a game console. This is a horible event and JT is belittling a tradgedy by trying to use it in his personal crusade.

Obviously we need to ban the Bible.

I also recall Jack saying Weise, during the Red Lake shooting, had a heart rate of less than 60, which the Secret Service or FBI could tell just by watching the tape.

...Man, he must've been in REALLY good shape to have his heart rate below 60, I can't even do that lying down and breathing slow.

@ cppcrusader

I totally agree with you. but i have had a situation like this (not the shooting but a person who was not mentally stable) and it is really really hard to get anything done, especially when that person is over 18. This girl was incredibly unstable, would pull people on these emotional rollercoasters and she needs help badly, and at one time was called by the cops for it. but once they have the person they put them in a hospital and have to ask them if they want help. they can refuse and just leave. there is nothing anyone can do.

Also if you call the cops on someone there could be big problems for you as well. because, like the girl I knew, she could phase in and out of her little tantrums and appear normal. which is how this guy got guns in the first place. and then the cops get on you for false alarming. if he was 18 and this stuff was going on I would only hope his parents would get him some help. but since he was 22 there was probably not much anyone could do until he did something really bad. Although the stalking was close, it wasn't bad enough.

It is just such a grey area. it's so hard to know if the person will or will not do something and you can't do anything until they do. and since this guy obviously didn't have any friends he didn't open up to anyone and get all this frustration vented out. it's all If's and Maybe's and no one can put someone away on maybe's. although sometimes they should be, atleast to get some help. because that is what this guy needed a long time ago.

ps. no I'm not sympathizing with this guy. but he did need help LONG ago to which no one is to blame for it really, besides him.

I love how the man is so sure of his theory that he discounts what people who lived with the guy said about his computer use when it contradicts what he "knows". If he was so immersed in the game, you would think that one of his suite-mates would have mentioned it? They say that they always saw him writing. Given that he was an English student, writing plays and poetry, and that they found a 1800 word document in his package to NBC, it makes me more inclined to believe what a person WHO WAS ACTUALLY THERE AND SAW WHAT HE WAS DOING ON A COMPUTER says, rather than believe the biased rantings of a proven liar who is literally making stuff up.

Also, there is no way possible that you can ascertain someone's heart rate from looking at surveillance camera footage. Perhaps if the camera can zoom in close enough to see his veins throbbing with his pulse, or the actual beat of his chest, but as I've read he was wearing a hunting jacket which makes that unlikely.

Even if his heart rate was low during the killing, think about it: If you have made up your mind that you are going to kill as many people as you can, then actually doing it is not going to bother you. Seeing as the guy has been planning it for over a month (evidenced by his calm waiting to get an additional handgun according to the Virginia laws), you can be sure that this was something he had no problem with, and was not bothered by doing.

I will accept people's arguments (though I may not agree) if they are based on evidence. What Jack Thompson is saying is that he KNEW that this man played Counter Strike, he KNOWS that the people who lived with him are wrong about his computer and he KNOWS that video games make your heart beat lower if you are killing someone. All without proof.

Make that "Erfurt" without the "h".

"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…"

Wh-- th-- I can't... The mind really boggles here. And let us not forget that in Counter-Strike, the enemy are running around with guns. If it trains you to do anything, it's to shoot people who are trying to shoot you first. That requires a different mental state than shooting cowering innocents at will. Heck, *hunting* is better training for a massacre like that than Counter-Strike could ever be.

"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. "

According to all the reports I've read, Cho had no friends. He was a complete loner, barely speaking a word to anyone including staff. Despite that, it's easy to tell whether someone is downloading music or playing games. Cho apparently didn't care about anything; why would be hide the fact that he played violent games?

Cho was a sick individual who wrote plays and poems that terrified fellow students. One teacher demanded protection while he was in her class and set up a codeword system so she could alert people when she felt threatened by him. He later bought some guns and deliberately set about breaking the record for school shootings. Games didn't do this, inspire this, or encourage this. He was just seriously disturbed.

To paraphrase: "His roommate doesn't know what he was doing on his computer, but I do."


"I'd say 80% of the male students in colleges are spending their spare time playing [Counter-Strike]"

And yet, 80% of the male students in colleges aren't running around shooting people.

A big round of applause to Chris Matthews for actually engaging in a logical debate, rather than just having a head come and talk at him.

The thing is, Jack goes on about computer gamers using games to replace reality with a self-percieved fiction. Odd thing is, one of the most blatant examples of someone who tries to make reality out of what he WANTS to have happened, rather than dealing with reality, is Jack Thompson.

Funny thing that.

He also said that Germany changed its laws after that german schoolshooting. That did not happen.

So, many more lies Jack "soon to be disbarred" Thompson ?

It doesn't matter whether he played CS or not. I play CS for Christ's sakes. Killing real people with real guns is incredibly different than playing CS.

this man has my respect. its good to know that not every media figurehead has their head up their ass.

"Seriously, I haven’t seen a “new” JT interview in a long time. Everyone I’ve seen it’s always him talking about Columbine, Paduchah and Red Lake(?), and how in all those cases the shooters trained and rehearsed for this acts."

Well, let's face it--Jack's been wanting to re-try James v. Meow Media (the Paducah shooting case that he lost) for the past seven years, only he's been looking to the Court of Public Opinion for his victory, which has not and likely will not come any time soon. Some attorneys just can't seem to grasp the concept of losing a case, and Jack continually refuses to take any responsbility for his failure in Kentucky seven years ago.

It is interesting how Thompson states that the Erfurt Massacre in Germany was the worst school shooting in the world until what happened at Virginia Tech. It seems like he is conveniently forgetting about the UT of Austin in 1966. Erfurt had more people killed -- 16 to Whitman's 15 -- but there were over 30 additional people wounded at Austin, putting the victim count three times higher.

The only reason I can think of for Thompson is ignoring that tragedy is that it doesn't help him in his crusade against video games.

Why blame games? Blame the loose gun laws letting this nut buy one legally in the first place.

This may sound completely horrible, but since the V.Tech shootings, videogames has actually gotten quite a bit of "support" from people that don't normally throw their weight to "our side". First Rush, and now Chris Matthews. Plus the protest rally, and a bunch of publications saying to hold off on blaming games until all the evidence is gathered. Its a big turn around from what normally happens, and for once, only JT and a small handful are jumping the gun and blaming games on it.


Yes, because he couldn't have possibly gotten firearms illegally if he was unable to get them legally. *rolls eyes*

The real questions that need to asked are where did the system fail this kid, how did he manage to not get the treatment he obviously needed? There's also the issue of the slow reaction time by the school's administration, security and PD.

Clearly it's all just a coverup by his room-mates, paid for by the game industry... ;)
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

Crack Thompson has some severe Narcissus Narcosis.

Give him long enough and he will fall into the beautiful reflection he is admiring. I believe Crack Thompson is a complete lunatic, remiss in his duties as an attorney, and completely lacking in humility, intelligence and tact. He wastes too much of the taxpayer's money and time. How long until this loser loses his audience?

I'd love to experience a news story about media outlets refusing to let Crack Thompson on their shows, websites, radio programs, etc. While it is strangely fun to read his own words and realize just how stupid he is, it is also quite infuriating to realize that he keeps getting media attention.

Crack, you are truly an idiot.

I watched this last night on Kotaku and all I can say is Chris Matthews did a hell of a job taking JT to task for his rampant speculation, assumptions, and lies.

Also, did I actually hear Thompson refer to games as "Art?"

Didn't he try to claim (under penalty of perjury) that games are not art?

@ scazza

I noticed this too. but i think it has something to do with that no cops were killed. it's so easy for them to past games on that because of GTA and you have the CHOICE to kill cops and then have them chase you, and probably (unless using a code) kill ya.

I think something happened, and I think I know what it was. The Wii and PS3. the number of older people playing games now is causing them to see how games are fun. and them being fun makes them realize it isn't effecting them outside of the game. sure giving a violent game to an already messed up individule will probably not help, but you could say the same giving them any type of violent form of media. but I can only hope that people are finally figuring out that there is more here than just a game. it is seen in his videos and it is seen in his writings that this guy was messed up already. plus the fact he apparently played more basketball and wrote stories than anything else.

Re: Dog_Welder:

The initial online draft of the Washington Post's story did reference CounterStrike, however it was removed from the website and the actual print article had it excised as well. Which is good considering police found NO GAMES in the kid's dorm.

did he just refer to Cho’s dorm mates as his high school friends?

I think Jack was saying that it was Cho's high school friends that said he was "trained" on Counter-Strike, when the dorm-mates were the ones saying that he didn't.

A poster on another forum I frequent was apparently taken aback by all this, as he was a suite-mate with Cho. Described him as a very quiet guy who would never speak, and would usually reply to questions with "grunts and nods." Also mentioned several visits from campus police over stalking allegations. No mention of him as a hardcore gamer, and I find it hard to believe that someone this socially inept would have been able to find success in a team game like CS.

These are the questions that should be asked! Thesy are the kint that rip through Jack's warped twisted "logic" More news outlets need to ask him these types of questions.

- Warren Lewis

Consumer responsibility is just as important as Corporate responsibility. So, be responsible consumers.

Seems like when Thompson goes on a network that aggrees with his views, he looks like a well-spoken, intelligent person. Put him on a show in which he is suddenly forced to defend his points, provide real information and not just tout past "accomplishments" and he falls flat.

Seriously, I haven't seen a "new" JT interview in a long time. Everyone I've seen it's always him talking about Columbine, Paduchah and Red Lake(?), and how in all those cases the shooters trained and rehearsed for this acts.

I somehow doubt NFL teams just sit around playing the newest version of Madden football during summer training camp. And those are more realistic than any shooter ever could be.

Been a while since I've posted. o.o

I read through this transcript and I noticed something. Thompson claims that videogames are life imitating art" and so on. Didnt he, in his last filing, declare that games are NOT Art? Just gives me more of an impression this man can't even keep his own lies straight.

As for the rest of the reading, I get the impression Matthews didn't believe a word Thompson said. Not that it's all that hard to disbelieve Jack. He's pulling figures out of his ass and trying to arrange them so that it looks like this shooter was a complete addict to games. e.e

Yay Hack Thompson. A King among fools, and God among television Whoremongers.

Is it true Jack Thompson is a born again? It seems many loonies like Delay and Bush seems to share that same "finding jesus" moment.

According to a story I read, no games were found on the killer's computer.

did he just refer to Cho's dorm mates as his high school friends?

"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? "
"Cho? His high school friends."
"OK. Well, he is a fourth-year student at Virginia Tech."

So 4 years ago, he played Counter-Strike, and it trained him so well, that 4 years later he was able to start planning a massacre, without ever playing it again?

-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

I don't remember killing random people in Counter Strike.

I do remember Terrorism and Counter terrorism in it, but I don't remember it giving me the ability to be a cold calculated killer.

I love how JT knows what he was doing... I mean his roommates even said when he was on the computer he was typing.... yet JT says they have no idea what they are talking about.

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

It's about time someone is questioning his "facts".

lol. They could tell by security camera footage that his heart rate was below 60.

I love you Jack Thompson, I love your entertaining theories.

Aannndd... he sounded like a broken record... saying the same thing over and over.
Looks like he tried to shove Point 1 down but got... heh... countered.

Unless a huge number of games are found on his computer, the whole "blame games" angle seems moot. Why is the media still talking about it?

“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. ”

Except all the ones the media are talking to. Who all say he worked on english assignments, not games.

So which imaginary "friend" is JT talking to?
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

Good for somebody in the mainstream media finally standing up to Thompson and his misinformation. Far from ignoring him thinking he will just go away, we need to do the opposite. We need to be there every time Thompson comes out of the woodwork to dispel the lies and falsehoods he spreads.

I had heard that Jack Thompson posts here on GamePolitics.com, in an effort to defend his views and beliefs. That's fine, as social debate is healthy and encouraged in our country. However, I was a little surprised to find that he had been banned over fifty times from this site, and he was the sole reason why the ability to post anonymously is now forbidden. That sounds a little obsessive to me.

I imagine he still reads the posts, comments, and so on and so forth, and could even find ways to post comments on this site. People are resourceful, after all...

Anyways, there are so many things that Jack says that I simply don't agree with. Honestly, they are so numerous in quantity, I would spend hours here typing about them, so I'll just skip to the ones more relevant with the VT shooting...

1) Video games "train" minors to be efficient and level-headed killers.
NO. Not even possible. How is the interface of a joystick, mouse, or controller even comparable to an actual gun? You sure as hell don't hold a joystick the same way as a gun. That's most of the basis for this agrument: since the two are so physically different, the ability to learn to maximize your effectiveness with one does NOT translate over to the other. Agent57 stated in his post that, although he was experienced in playing FPS, when he went to a shooting range with a friend, his skills didn't carry over to actual real-life shooting. Same can be said with me: I played Metal Gear Online (not a FPS, but a shooter nonetheless), and I can say I was pretty good at the game, but my cousin five years my junior can destroy me in skeet shooting! And he plays little to no video games, b/c he has a hectic schedule.

2) Violent video games desensitize us towards actual violence.
Hmmmm, a good point that's been around since ancient times. LOL... I think his basis for the argument is that people who see this virtual violence are more predisposed towards committing violent acts. It's a possibility, NOT a statistic. It's not improbable to think that someone could use a video game to "rehearse", but to assume that everyone who plays a particularly violent game has that ambition and that ambition ONLY... well, you know what they say when you assume...

3) Violent video games should not be readily and easily accessible to minors.
I do agree with this, but only to an extent, and I think this statement could be worded a little more carefully. Here's how I see it: When a game is given a "Mature" rating, it means just that. Immature people have no right to play this game. I have heard and witnessed countless violations of this rule in online games. How many times have you heard an angry child, or even an adult, curse you out, call you slanderous names, defame your character, or even go so far as attempt to publicly humiliate you? These people are the ones that the rating system attempts to prevent from playing these games. I know that there are people who act very mature for their age, who play these "Mature" games, who are also under the age limit for these "Mature" games. So, how do we gauge who is and isn't mature enough to participate in these activities? Simple, the parents. The parents, who should know more about their own children than anyone else, are the ones who are responsible for what entertainment their kids are allowed to see/hear/interact with. If your child is able to discern between negative behavior in a virtual/fictional environment and negative behavior in real life, and is able to realize the consequences of such actions as a deterrent to acting upon them, then they are able to partake in a "Mature"-rated game, and behave accordingly. To sum it up: minors buying "Mature" games should be regulated, but the decision to buy that game rests upon the guardians of those children, and no one else. If the guardian and the dependent can reach a consensus as to whether or not the game is appropriate and suitable for them, then it should end there.

I know I am just reiterating what the vast majority of you already know, but this post is more a message to Jack Thompson, who I hope reads this comment.

I am 23 years old. I have played many violent video games, including Resident Evil, most of the GTA series, Max Payne, Metal Gear Solid, a little bit of Halo, God of War, and damn near everything else in between. I have had trouble lately trying to find a job, as my college career has been less than successful. I still enjoy playing video games, even more so when I am either competing against or co-operating with other players. I consider myself a decent and hardworking member of society, even if I am still struggling to find my place.

I REFUSE to take cheap shots at people. I WILL defend myself if someone attacks me or my character/characteristics. I do NOT find it entertaining to belittle anyone, especially based on race, sex, religion, sexual preference, personal choice, hobbies, and/or interests.

Now, looking at several statements you yourself have made,...


it seems that you are quick to go on the defensive, whether someone is being vindictive towards you, or is simply trying to debate a point with you. The former is circumstantial, and can, to an extent, be justified. But the latter, well... Why get so defensive? There are people, believe it or not, who are gamers, whose frontal lobes are not fried, who look forward to a debate with you, who could probably hold their own against you. These people are not out to humiliate you, simply to discuss and compare their views with your own.

I did not write this post with an intent to ridicule you, though I did feel hurt after reading some of the things you have said about gamers as a whole. I simply would like a dialog with you. And if you feel that I am hiding behind a screen name, just ask, and you shall receive my name, address, city, state, vitals, favorite books, music, pets, pet peeves, favorite quotes, and yada yada yada...

I hope to hear from you and discuss this subject like two people, in a tactful and civil manner.

I don't know what you gamers are thinking. I completely agree with Jack Thompson about Cho's history and training with Counter-Strike.

Counter-Strike clearly teaches you to:
- Avoid being flagged by a background check when purchasing a firearm even though you have a clear history of mental illness by never being confined to a mental institution by judicial order.
- Purchase firearms from gun and pawn shops in states with relatively lax gun control laws.
- Purchase ammunition on eBay.
- Write insane ranting letters
- Make insane ranting video's of yourself
- Conceal all evidence of your video game habits from suite-mates and police searches


I wonder if it ever occurred to Jack that, perhaps, if Cho did indeed have a 60 or under heart rate while he was shooting everyone, it wasn't because he was "trained on games", but because in Cho's twisted view of the world, shooting a person probably wasn't much different than shooting a cardboard cutout.

(sorry for the double post)... I had an "end sarcasm" tag after the "Duh!", but it got removed... =(

I don't believe games are to blame either. I mean I play Counter-Strike, CoD2, PainKiller, etc... the list goes on I mean honestly, I've never had the urge to go out and kill a bunch of people. I even some times go Paint balling. When I go paintballing my heart rate still rises and keeps you on the edge of your seat, I've been playing counter-strike since v1.3 and going paintballing still gets my heart rate going and thats not even a real gun. This guy JT clearly needs to sit down, play some video games, go paint balling and then tell us how playing games made him into a cold hearted murderer.

JT should train on some legal simulators, and maybe stop embarrassing the profession.
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