Having opened his hour of Hardball Monday night with a segment devoted to bashing an attack ad against Hillary Clinton, MSNBC host Chris Matthews devoted significant attention later in the program to blasting prospective 2016 GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz as the leader of the "hate wing" of the GOP.
Matthews took aim at the freshman senator with a guilt-by-association charge, citing new language in the Texas GOP's platform regarding controversial reparative therapy for gays and lesbians who wish to be straight. [video update follows page break]
"Ted Cruz is back at it, leading the haters of the right," Matthews huffed in a tease towards the top of the show. "Wait 'til you see what the Republicans of Texas just put in their new platform about gays."
"With Cruz as their ringleader, the hate wing of the Republican Party showed off a side of the party traditional Republicans don't want you to see, for example, on gay rights," Matthews groused as he opened his segment, noting new language that the Lone Star GOP added into their party platform which reads (emphasis mine):
We recognize the legitimacy and efficacy of counseling, which offers reparative therapy and treatment for those patients seeking healing and wholeness from their homosexual lifestyle. No laws or executive orders shall be imposed to limit or restrict access to this type of therapy.
Unfortunately for viewers, Matthews left off that final sentence, and, in the segment itself, Matthews backed up with a liberal amen chorus consisting of Howard Fineman and Eugene Robinson who painted the GOP as, at best, hopelessly out of step with the majority of the country -- or even of Texas -- on gay rights and same-sex marriage and, at worst, well, chock full of anti-gay hate.
Perhaps all the more to serve his narrative and not muddy it up with facts, Matthews failed to touch on the context in which the Texas GOP drafted and approved the new platform plank. Reported Patrick Kane of Breitbart on Saturday (emphasis mine):
Breitbart Texas news contributor Bob Price attended both the Temporary Platform Committee meeting and the Thursday night Permanent Platform Committee meeting. "The debate about the reparative therapy plank," Price said, “centered around not allowing the state of Texas to pass any law that would prohibit someone who is seeking counseling or therapy from a doctor or therapist to be able to obtain treatment they desire."
"Members of the committee heard testimony from convention delegates," Price continued, "who testified strongly for and against the issue. Many amendments were offered to attempt to soften the language but those failed on a near evenly split vote of the committee."
So the language was clearly intended as a stand against freedom-of-speech-infringing laws in states like California and New Jersey which foreclose the option of such counseling altogether for minors. Approve or disapprove of reparative therapy itself, at issue is the notion that the government should not forbid the practice altogether and that doctors or counselors and their patients should be able to engage in such therapy on the basis of mutual consent.
Additionally, as Kane noted, the platform committee was strongly divided on the wording. There is diversity of opinion on the platform committee, it's hardly a monolith as Matthews would have viewers believe.
What's more, Matthews seems to have left viewers with the faulty impression that previous "tears at the fabric of society" language from the 2012 platform was retained in the 2014 one:
The Texas Republican platform already had said, quote, "homosexuality tears at the fabric of society." But that wasn't enough. According to the Associated Press, quote, "under the new plank, the Texas GOP recognizes the legitimacy and efficacy of counseling which offers reparative therapy and treatment seeking healing and wholeness from their homosexual lifestyle."
But as TheBlaze.com's Zach Noble reported (emphasis mine):
While the new Texas Republican Party platform endorses "reparative therapy" for gays, it also removes a passage, long included in the platform, that says "the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society."