MSNBC news anchor David Shuster on Tuesday linked the terrorist act of flying a plane into an Austin IRS building with growing concern over big government. After describing the horrific crime last week of Joseph Stack, Shuster connected, "While that's extreme, a recent NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll found that when it comes to the federal government, 46 percent of Americans say it is not working well and needs large reforms." [Audio available here.]
Shuster wondered how America got "to this point" and then looked back at tea party protests over the last year. At no time did he explain to his viewers that Stack's suicide note expressed a hatred for capitalism, an opinion not shared by most tea party members.
After recapping unemployment rates and Republican victories in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts, Shuster returned to his effort to connect unhappiness with government to terrorism: "Then, last week, anti-government sentiment came to a tipping point for one deranged man in Texas. He crashed his airplane into a building that housed the Austin offices of the IRS."
Shuster proceeded to lecture Americans as seemingly incapable of appreciating the efforts by Barack Obama to improve the country's financial state: "And most economists give credit to some of the very same policies that have unnerved so many Americans over the past year." Shuster didn't identify who "most" of these economists were.
With one last condescending flourish, Shuster dismissed, "But, it may take years for many Americans to actually see the recovery impact them."
A transcript of the February 23 segment, which aired at 3:43pm EST, follows:
DAVID SHUSTER: Joseph Stack left behind a 3,000-word anti-government manifesto after he crashed his plane into that Austin, Texas office building housing the IRS. While that's extreme, a recent NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll found that when it comes to the federal government, 46 percent of Americans say it is not working well and needs large reforms. And 24 percent say the government is unhealthy and stagnant. That's a dramatic change in view from when President Obama first took office. So, how did we get to this point?
BARACK OBAMA: On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promise, the recriminations and worn out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.
SHUSTER: Inauguration Day, 2009. President Obama promised change in America and Americans were yearning for change there the start. But two of the President's top cabinet picks immediately faced questions about their tax records.
TOM DASCHLE: But, that's no excuse.
SHUSTER: Tom Daschle, who was supposed to lead health care, withdrew his nomination. Tim Geithner survived and took over the Treasury Department.
TIM GEITHNER: Thank you, Mr. President.
SHUSTER: Geithner then ran into a buzz saw of a different kind. With the economy melting down and unemployment skyrocketing, the Obama economic team pushed for a controversial $800 billion spending bill. The controversial stimulus plan came as the public was beginning to learn the details of the $700 billion bank bailout approved months earlier by the Bush administration with the approval from the incoming Obama team.
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: The same big banks that caused the problems got every dollar back.
SHUSTER: And then there were revelations about those expensive retreats and fat bonuses at AIG. And the populist anger exploded on CNBC
RICK SANTELLI: This is America! How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor's mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can't pay their bills? Raise their hand. President Obama, are you listening?
SHUSTER: That led to the birth of the so-called tea party movement, independents and conservatives outraged over big government spending. Many of the protesters also took aim at the President himself, fueled in part by rants from conservative media figures.
RUSH LIMBAUGH: The President of the United States, Barack Obama, is destroying the United States' economy.
SHUSTER: By the summer of 2009, with the Obama administration focused on health care, the confusion and anger boils over.
MAN TALKING TO ARLEN SPECTER: One day God's going to stand before you and he is going to judge you and the rest of your damn cronies up on the hill!
SHUSTER: In October, the country's unemployment rate hit its highest point in 26 years. That ratcheted up the pressure of the Obama administration which had touted the stimulus plan earlier in the year as a job creator.
JOE BIDEN: Without the Economic Recovery Act, it is very unlikely this economy would have expanded at all.
SHUSTER: The public, though, was frustrated. And in the November off-year elections Republicans swept a victory in the New Jersey and Virginia governors race.
BOB MCDONNELL: We will leave Virginia better than we found it.
SHUSTER: Early January delivered the biggest shock of all, Republican Scott Brown, who kept his distance from the far right, won the Massachusetts Senate seat previously held by Ted Kennedy for 48 years. Despite the message from Massachusetts just weeks ago, the President unveiled a budget blueprint that would increase the annual federal deficit to a record $1.6 trillion. The President tried to put it in perspective.
BARACK OBAMA: When I first walked through the door, the deficit stood at $1.3 trillion, with projected deficits of $8 trillion over the next decade.
SHUSTER: The House voted to allow the government to go even deeper into debt to the tune of nearly $2 trillion. Then, last week, anti-government sentiment came to a tipping point for one deranged man in Texas. He crashed his airplane into a building that housed the Austin offices of the IRS. And there was the Ohio man who wasn't happy with the bank about to foreclosure on his home, so he delivered his own message by bulldozing his house to the ground. Meanwhile, the government faces another decision about whether to extend unemployment benefits again next month, a move that would effect 1.4 million people. And yet, economic indicators say the recession has ended. And most economists give credit to some of the very same policies that have unnerved so many Americans over the past year. But, it may take years for many Americans to actually see the recovery impact them. In the meantime, even Obama administration officials acknowledge the public mood is marked by frustration and anger.