MSNBC Derides Tea Party Activism in 'Angry White Voters' Segment as Failed 'Amateur Politics'
In keeping with the tradition of the holidays - the minds at MSNBC, the place for politics if you're of the lefty persuasion, decided rate the top 10 political stories of the decade.
And leading this gang of masters of the political journalism universe was "Hardball" host Chris Matthews, who on the broadcast of his Dec. 24 program, announced that conservative activism, mainly the tea party movement was the eighth biggest story of the decade - but labeled "angry white voters" (emphasis added).
"Welcome back to ‘Hardball' - our number eight political story of the decade, angry whites at town hall meetings across the country," Matthews said. "Lawmakers heard the wrath of angry voters."
On Matthews' panel, adding insight and analysis to the story, was NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell, Washington Post "Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist" Eugene Robinson and NBC White House corresponded Chuck Todd. Mitchell chalked this "angry" phenomenon up to the economy, which she claims to have seen firsthand looking for a scoop about Sarah Palin during the former Alaska governor's book tour.
"I think this really does grow out of the recession and the economic pain and the unemployment," Mitchell said. "So this may not be as large a phenomenon as we go forward. I think it is cyclical, but it's angry. I saw it out there when I was covering Sarah Palin on her book tour. These are angry people in the Midwest, in the Rust Belt. They are hurting and they want to let people know and they're telling people off."
Matthews, apparently relying on the cherry-picked footage aired on MSNBC, said they were labeled angry whites because he didn't see any other ethnicities.
"Well, we say angry whites because they do seem to be monochromatic," Matthews said. "They are all whites at these meetings."
But Robinson wasn't willing to just attribute this alleged "angry white voter" phenomenon to the bad economy, but the election of President Barack Obama.
"And I think there was something there, waiting to be touched off by not only the recession but the election of the first African-American," Robinson said. "And the health care. I think it all was the kind of spark that set off, but the kindling was there."
Todd, playing the role of part political scientist and part anthropologist, said this movement had deeper roots than even Obama's election, but the 2003 California recall.
"We did see a sort of preview of this angry voter revolt in a story we don't have mentioned in our top 10 but is a gigantic story in this decade - the California recall, which was an unbelievable story at the time," Todd said. "Yes, it gave us Arnold Schwarzenegger, but set him aside for a minute. It had its roots in this angry voter revolt movement. They were so unhappy with the election. This Gray Davis got reelected. It started in this - it was the same group, Darrell Issa, congressman who's taken advantage of this tea party anger that's out there now - it all started in the conservative sort of Orange County area."
But Matthews dismissed this activism and said Schwarzenegger, who was deemed a failure, was evidence "amateur politics" and "citizen politics" doesn't work.
"Is it episodic, does it erupt out of, like Andrea says - out in California, they've had a bad experience with Arnold Schwarzenegger - amateur politics, citizen politics hasn't worked," Matthews said.
Todd warned tea party participants that if they as a citizenry got too involved, they will face the same fate of California.
"At this time, it wasn't anger," Todd replied. "And it should be a good lesson frankly to these tea partiers - be careful what you wish for, look what you got in California."