MSNBC Fawns Over Liberal Author Who Pines for the '70s With 'Real Nostalgia'

MSNBC's Cycle hosts on Thursday brought on liberal author Rick Perlstein to pine for the greatness that was the 1970s. Perlstein appeared to promote his new book on the '70s and the transition from Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan. Allowing that the decade was a "dark time," the writer enthused, "But to me, there's some nostalgia to that period. Because Americans proved they could look our problems in the eye like grownups and face them." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]

Remember, this was the decade of Vietnam, gas shortages, American hostages in Iran and inflation, to name a few problems. Perlstein attacked Reagan's sunny optimism during the period, complaining, "One of the problems with Reagan, one of the things we need to reckon with, is he gave us absolution from doing that hard work as citizens." 

 

Perlstein's fondness for the '70s largely seems to stem from the congressional effort to oust Nixon as president. Though the liberal author said of modern politics: "I'm not a big fan of this fetish for bipartisanship. I think there's not enough partisanship in the Democratic Party, actually." 

Perlstein then launched into a tale of the long-lasting impact of Reagan's optimism: 

RICK PERLSTEIN: So, I tell the story in the preface about Samantha Power, a great scholar, a great human rights activist. She wrote an article once talking about the things America had done around the world that weren't so great and said we need to reckon with these and at her confirmation hearing, Senator Rubio looks at her in the eye and says "What are these crimes that you talk about?" Right? Remember apologizing for America and she responds, as she was probably coached to do, "America is the greatest country in the world and we have nothing to apologize for." 

He then added, "So, how can we solve global warming with attitudes like that?" Perlstein's book, The Invisible Bridge, has been rocked by charges of plagerism: 

Then we have Craig Shirley, a Reagan historian and conservative who has written about Reagan extensively. Mr. Shirley says that Mr. Perlstein lifted language and facts directly from his own work, “Reagan’s Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started It All,” published a decade ago, and without direct attribution. There is a single reference: Mr. Perlstein wrote in his acknowledgments, “Craig Shirley’s book on Reagan’s 1976 campaign saved me 3.76 months” in research time.

Mr. Shirley’s attorney contacted publisher Simon & Schuster on July 25, citing Mr. Perlstein’s use of entire passages from the Shirley book, and claiming he had also altered the information, while appearing to position himself as if he had “discovered and developed” the facts himself, the lawyer says.

The Cycle hosts gave Perlstein a pass on these charges and didn't mention them Similarly, the Washington Post on August 3 actually insisted, "Perlstein covers the 1976 race for the Republican presidential nomination in greater detail than anyone has done before." 

The aforementioned Craig Shirley wrote an exhaustive 456 page book, Reagan's Revolution, on the 1976 race. This was in 2010, four years before Perlstein's work. Reviewer H.W. Brands should have been aware of this fact. 

A partial transcript of the August 7 segment is below: 


3:31

RICK PERLSTEIN: They used to say after Watergate, the system worked. Right? You know, I'm not a big fan of this fetish for bipartisanship. I think there's not enough partisanship in the Democratic Party, actually. But it really did work. It's quite extraordinary. The Watergate hearings that were held in the '70s, in 1973 were on television, but there was very little grandstanding. They did serious work. 

...

PERLSTEIN: And to me, you know, we think of the '70s as a dark time and they really were. There were 83 terrorist bombings on American soil in 1975. But to me, there's some nostalgia for that period. Because Americans proved that they could look our problems in the eye, like grownups and face them. And one of the problems with Reagan, one of the things we need to reckon with, is he gave us absolution from doing that hard work as citizens. Right? So, I tell the story in the preface about Samantha Power, a great scholar a great human rights activist. She wrote an article once talking about the things America had done around the world that weren't so great and said we need to reckon with these and at her confirmation hearing, Senator Rubio looks at her in the eye and says, "What are these crimes that you talk about?" Right? Remember apologizing for America and she responds, as she was probably coached to do, "America is the greatest country in the world and we have nothing to apologize for." 

TOURE: Of course. 

PERLSTEIN: So, how can we solve global warming with attitudes like that? 

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org