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Chris Matthews' Documentary 'Rise of the New Right': A Curveball From the Left

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If MSNBC was looking to officially become the cable channel of the far left, it may have finally succeeded Wednesday night with the airing of Chris Matthews' documentary "The Rise of The New Right."
MSNBC -- the network whose hosts routinely mock Tea Party activists as "Tea Baggers" -- aggressively promoted the documentary, with Matthews appearing on "Morning Joe" and "The Daily Rundown" Wednesday morning, as well as throughout the day.
Matthews clearly believes, as "Hardball's" website says, "the new right is an emerging fact of life in 21st century." As such, it was time to launch a thorough analysis into this nascent phenomenon and (as MSNBC's documentary website says) "investigate in-depth some of the most important stories of our time." Sadly, though, Matthews' hour-long documentary effort left us with more questions than answers.
To be sure, the program came equipped with the perfunctory ominous music (meant to let you know when to be scared) and interviews ranging from respected former Majority Leader (and now president of Freedomworks) Dick Armey to Orly Taitz, the "unofficial leader of the Birthers," who recently lost a GOP primary in California by a landslide.
The documentary also features members of the Michigan Militia at their survival training camp (who were calm and well spoken), and interviews with Kentucky GOP Senate nominee Rand Paul from the campaign trail. Surprisingly, it also featured the positive portrayal of a suburban Hispanic mom named Ana, who has become a Tea Party activist.
chris matthews rise of the new rightBut overall Matthews is guilty of attempting to find the most extreme elements of the right, and trying to paint the conservative movement with that broad brush.
The title, "The Rise of The New Right," harkens back to Richard Viguerie's 1981 book, "The New Right; We're Ready to Lead." Vigurie introduced Americans to some of the up-and-coming conservative leaders who would be a part of "Reagan's Revolution." But Matthews mixes in mainstream conservatives and Tea Party activists with fringe elements, and implies that conservatives are motivated by "class and racial resentment."
"The Tea Party movement I know looks nothing like the one portrayed on MSNBC," says Armey in an e-mail to me. "The movement is made up of good, hardworking, honest, smart people that love their country. . . . Chris Matthews and MSNBC have an axe to grind, but it will only backfire. I wouldn't be surprised if the Tea Party movement responds forcefully against these outrageous charges."
(Based on the way Matthews covers conservatives, I expect him to interpret Armey's notion that Tea Partiers may "respond forcefully" as a personal threat. In fact, as is the case with most civil American political rhetoric, Armey intends for Tea Partiers to seek revenge at the ballot box.)
The documentary features selective editing of heated political rhetoric that both parties regularly use. For example, while promoting the documentary on a recent episode of "Hardball," Matthews said the Tea Party movement is engaged in a debate over "whether the federal government deserves toppling." As evidence, the documentary features a video of Rand Paul saying, "We've come to take our government back."
Matthews feigns that this is dangerous talk, but the "take our country back" slogan has been around forever -- and employed by both parties. As Matthews' own documentary shows, MSNBC's Pat Buchanan used the line back in 1992. But Matthews fails to note that Howard Dean even wrote a book titled "You Have the Power: How to Take Back Our Country and Restore Democracy in America."
(Did Howard Dean think that Bush overthrew democracy? Did Dean want to topple our government and "restore democracy"? Of course not!)
Matthews also makes much of Rush Limbaugh's references to the "Obama regime," but neglects to mention that several liberals -- including MSNBC's Ed Schultz -- and Matthews himself referred to the "Bush regime." He recounts threats made against Democratic members of Congress after the passage of health care reform, but neglects to mention a death threat made against Republican Rep. Eric Cantor.
The documentary features protesters holding signs and posters saying unflattering things about President Obama, but Matthews seemed less concerned about the "Bushitler" signs or of the 2006 movie portraying the assassination of President Bush.
This program comes on the heels of Rachel Maddow's April documentary on Timothy McVeigh on the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing (at the time, liberal pundits like Maddow and even Bill Clinton were attempting to tie the current anti-government political sentiment with the Oklahoma City bombing). Of course, that comparison was both insulting and disturbing.
Ultimately, the Matthews' documentary failed to engage the central question repeatedly raised by the activists interviewed: Is the government too big, doing too many things, spending too much money? It is a discussion the left does not want to have.

Click play below to watch a clip about the documentary:

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Borys Kostyszyn

Chris Matthews has always been a progressive comentator. His show and he personaly would do better and be much more repected if wasn't so blantantly biased. I like watching becuase he so bad at trying to spin progressive ideas you have to laugh.

June 21 2010 at 3:15 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Matt Lewis might not know the difference between a shouting match or a full out large scale assault, but I am glad and comforted that Chris Matthes does.......the evidence is OVERWHELMING in support of the program produced by MSNBC, OVERWHELMING......Matt Lewis just wanted to be more clever, in writting a re buff of th...e program, possibly, who knows maybe he wants to be Chris Matthews, or maybe he is just not aware of just hoe extreme the "elements" are.......Matt, remember a fellow named Tim Mc Veigh and a little explosion in Oklahoma City ? Extreme enough?
I thought your article Matt, was out of touch, with any reality on the far right politcal front......

June 18 2010 at 10:37 AM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply
Rob & Kathy

carmac12:20 PM Jun 17, 2010
Please document the Kennedy stance against Affirmative Action - I worked for him, was totally unaware of that one.
Please document where JFK ever proclaimed that race should take priority over individual character and ability...

June 17 2010 at 8:34 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

most people with high school deploma can understand how correct Mr. Mathew is and how wrong and backward the views of Limbaus, Armys and Pauls are.
I do not want my country back, I want my country forward.

June 17 2010 at 7:57 PM Report abuse -10 rate up rate down Reply

Chris Matthews is the man who said on TV that he would do what ever it takes to make sure that Obama's successful as president . Well so far he has done that by trying to make the Tea Party movement into this right wing group that are a bunch of racist fringe groups band together to stop Obama . Well we all know that is not the case and yes they do not support Obama's agenda .

June 17 2010 at 7:12 PM Report abuse +10 rate up rate down Reply
Ray and Carmen

Hallelujah!!! A report on AOL that finally addresses the biased & often untruthful allegation about Conserbatism, the Tea Party & Republicans. I am very pleased and hope that AOL will continue to print stories that address both sides of the political spectrum. Chris Mathews has become so entrenched in his leftist beliefs that he has lost all credibility as a reporter. I would hope that one day people like Mathews will realize that they hold a very important position regarding the discemination of the existing political currents, and commit themselves to reporting the events as they are, without slanting the stories to reflect THEIR personel beliefs. The people of this country should be able to rely on all news services to be an honest source of information so that they can make their own informed decisions. When this roll is compromised because of the reporters personel beliefs, a great disservice is commited against the people these reporters serve. It is the mainstream media's exagerated and slanted reporting that has played a large part in the overall ignorance of American Society. This is just plain wrong, and dangerous to the continued existence of Democracy in the United States. Thank-You AOL & Mr. Lewis for a very revealing story.

June 17 2010 at 7:00 PM Report abuse +10 rate up rate down Reply

Re. MSNBC becoming the lighthouse of the left, I think it's refreshing that we have a major media outlet that might serve as a counterweight to FOX NEWS. Moreover, I find very little wrong with Matthews' presentation. He employs an ancient literary art form. Aristotle called it "hyperbole" -- exaggerated imagery to amplify a point, an idea or an entire message. To the extent that any of his selective devices may be true, it frightens me because it does, in fact, threaten our republic and the Constitution that made and makes it great. Some call it Neoconservatism. I call it Neofacisim!

June 17 2010 at 6:33 PM Report abuse -9 rate up rate down Reply

You want to talk about government spending? The fed is currently spending 700 billion a year in defense! (This is the largest part of our discretionary spending bar none BTW!) The next largest spender is China at 90 billion. Why do we spend so much in this area? It is not because of the wars. All wars are funded through supplamental appropriations. I am a former field artillery officer with the U.S. Army. I see that all that money (in large part) does not make its way down to the troops. The EU artillery systems I observed were far more advanced than what we currently have with our Palladins. So where does the money go? Large, expensive, and slow pentagon contracts is where. If we just capped this spending to 500 billion (5 x that of China!) we could fund all kinds of services AND pay down the national debt. However, the reality is, the time to cut spending and raise taxes and raise interest rates is NOT when you are in a recession. It must come when you are out of a recession and the overall economy is on firm footing because initial recoveries are tenuous at best and the feedback loop of job loss could begin again. Everyone needs to start with an honest assesment of where we spend our money and why before we start talking about cuts.

June 17 2010 at 5:48 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Darren's comment

Sorry no matter what cuts are made, as long as democrats are in control there will always be more spending programs until there is no longer any money to steal from the hard working citizens to fund it.

At that point they will just print money and de-value the wealth of everyone even more, until eventually we go completely and utterly bankrupt.

Reality sucks but sometimes you've got to get smacked in the face with it.

June 17 2010 at 5:54 PM Report abuse +10 rate up rate down Reply

That comment is as rediculous as anything I have heard. If we republicans are to have any future credibility then we need to start with the truth. Truth starts with education. Turn off the talking heads and start educating yourselves. The reality is that the talking heads have nothing to offer you. Pick up a Macroeconomics book, a U.S. history book, and a U.S. government/civics book instead if you want to contribute meaningful commentary. Otherwise it is just more mindless mud-slinging.

June 17 2010 at 6:10 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Why would anyone take Matthews seriously? His ratings are so low that he has to pull a bunch of garbage out in hopes that it increases his ratings.

Wow, this is as self serving as it gets. What a waste of air time.

June 17 2010 at 5:33 PM Report abuse +11 rate up rate down Reply

"Is the government too big, doing too many things, spending too much money? It is a discussion the left does not want to have."

Well I do want to have the discussion. "Is the government to big?" The size of government should be only as large as it needs to be. When U.S. populations increase, the size of government should increase. When local populations vote for expanded services to cope with increasing populations the size of government should increase. (Think of roads & bridges, hospitals, police, fire protection, public works, education, military, etc.....all government services) The U.S. population is now at around 380 million people and that number is increasing. Of course budgets are going to be strained when populations incease. Or when additional services are added, the size of government should increase. For example, Ronald Regan expanded the size of the federal goverment by 63,000 federal jobs when he created the VA.

"Is the government doing to many things?" There are certainly a lot of "things" to be done. Mabey it is not able to do enough "things" and should expand to cope with the rising need.

"Is the government spending too much money?" Of course it is! But if you have any knowledge of Macroeconomics then you know that recessions DEMAND government intervention and spending to halt the downward spiral. This spiral of loss of aggregate demand leading to loss of private sector jobs leading to loss of aggregate demand leading to loss of more jobs etc. is a feedback loop. If your government does nothing, recessions last for 5 or 10 years and trillions get lost in production. This is why we spend money on infrastructure spending, and give up revenue sources through tax cuts, and increase lending through lower interest rate incentives. This is what the federal debt is for. It is not for giving the top earners huge and multiple tax breaks at the height of the economic bubble. Like it or not, the largest spender in U.S. history was GW. He took a 200-300 billion surplus at the beginning of his administration and turned it into a 1.2 trillion dollar deficit which then became president Obama's problem.

Ultimately, it is not about "right" or "left". It is about solving our nations problems. And you cannot do that if you perpetuate fear and ignorance just so your party can gain power again.

June 17 2010 at 4:51 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
5 replies to Darren's comment

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