Anatomy of a Failed Smear Job

If you’re going to try to smear a political movement, you should at least have a basic understanding of what it’s all about. MSNBC, in its zeal to discredit the Tea Party, should be slapped with a hefty charge of “reporting while clueless.” How obvious can it be that those who produced and hosted the documentary “The Rise of the New Right” have no idea what they’re talking about?

Up until the time of Barack Obama, modern liberalism was about three holy sacraments of the left: diversity/multiculturalism, global warming/climate change and abortion on demand. Most Americans could live with these things as long as the perceived threat to freedom was not high. But the election of President Obama brought with it yet another sacrament: social justice. The new President made it clear that he intended to implement his radical views—starting with his infamous comment to Joe the Plumber, “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”

Citizens who were already furious with President Bush over bailouts and TARP became alarmed that the new President started to vastly increase the size and scope of government. Several Obama initiatives contributed to this concern, including the takeover of automobile companies, the stimulus bill, takeovers of healthcare and the student loan program and the proposed cap-and-trade bill that would slap huge taxes on energy. All of these measures amount to more government control and spreading the wealth.

So when Chris Matthews, early in “The Rise of the New Right,” opines that the Tea Party movement is about racism, he’s reacting as a typical member of the left who somehow believes that America turned racist—right after the election that gave us our first black President by a comfortable margin. But that fact was lost on Matthews.

He attempted to smear the Tea Partiers by associating them with fringe elements and by making accusations that are not provable. He repeated charges that the Tea Party “taunted” black members of Congress during the March healthcare debate. He made the case that radical militia groups are a part of the movement—and he ran clips of people carrying arms to Obama rallies. Never mind the fact that most of the Tea Party is comprised of ordinary citizens who have never been near a militia. Or that the Secret Service would not have tolerated anyone violating a gun law in the vicinity of the President.

Worst of all was Matthews holding up conspiracy-based radio host Alex Jones as a representative of the movement. Jones told Matthews that the country has entered the phase of “deep tyranny,” and that some mysterious force is planning to eradicate up to 99% of the population. But Jones has nothing to do with the Tea Party—and in fact is on videotape disrupting an Austin Tea Party rally with his bullhorn. He’s also associated with “truthers” who contend that 9/11 was an inside job.

Jones cooperated with Matthews, said the most outrageous things he could for the cameras, and then later complained that MSNBC was biased. Please.

The Tea Party, or more correctly, the Bottom-Up Government movement, isn’t about conspiracy nuts or militias or truthers. It comes from the spirit of Samuel Adams who helped organize the original Tea Party to fight back at a government that acted against the will of the people. It is based on the Jeffersonian concept, outlined in the Declaration of Independence, that “Governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

A significant number of Americans have withdrawn their consent. And that’s what Chris Matthews and MSNBC don’t understand.