Chris Matthews, Around the Bend

Like others at MSNBC, Chris Matthews’s commitment to leftism has so overwhelmed his logical faculties that he frequently comes across as demented. Check out the video clip below: Matthews invited two guests to talk about Michigan’s right to work law; one is a representative of the UAW, the other is Scott Hagerstrom, the Michigan director of Americans For Prosperity. Both guests no doubt thought they were there to discuss the public policy issues surrounding right to work, and the union guy got to say his piece without interference. But Matthews never allowed Hagerstrom to say anything about right to work. Instead, he demanded to know–a total of ten times, I believe–who pays Mr. Hagerstrom’s salary. Hagerstrom, obviously taken aback, told Matthews repeatedly that he is paid by AFP. But that wasn’t good enough for Matthews, who voiced the liberal fantasy that AFP is a front for the Koch Brothers:

Several observations about Matthews’s performance:

1) Matthews was astonishingly rude to Hagerstrom. How big a jerk do you have to be to invite a guest to come on your show to discuss a policy issue, and then hector him with the same (stupid) question ten times without ever letting him say anything about the issue in question?

2) A viewer who depends on MSNBC for information would have no idea what the Michigan law is all about. Matthews falsely characterized right to work–a law that prevails in half the states–as union busting, when in fact, as Hagerstrom vainly tried to point out, the question is whether the state should force employees to join unions against their will.

3) I’m not sure what it is about Americans For Prosperity that drives liberals crazy; I suppose it is a testament to AFP’s effectiveness. Nationwide, AFP’s activities have been participated in by more than two million people, and the organization boasts more than 90,000 financial contributors. Liberals apparently can’t stand the idea of a successful conservative grass roots organization, so they insist hysterically–as you saw Matthews do–that AFP is somehow all about the Koch brothers.

4) Matthews said that everything was aboveboard with the union representative, but the key question about Hagerstrom was who contributes to AFP. This reflects Matthews’s failure to understand the point of right to work. The real contrast between the two guests is that people are forced to contribute to the union guy’s salary whether they want to or not; in fact, even if they are vociferously opposed to the union’s activities. No one, on the other hand, is compelled to contribute to AFP against his or her will. If Matthews had focused on that basic fact, the discussion of right to work would have been more illuminating.

5) Has Matthews ever badgered a guest from a left-wing organization like Media Matters, MoveOn, and so on, about who contributes to those groups? Of course not.

6) Matthews gratuitously alleged that the Koch brothers are anti-union. As usual, he offered no support for this claim. It is simply a left-wing fantasy and apparently self-validating as such. In fact, the Koch brothers are not anti-union. About one-third of Koch Industries’ employees are unionized, and Koch maintains excellent relations with its unions. Matthews just made up the anti-union stuff because it makes sense in his fantasy world.

The Koch brothers have become a sort of political Rorschach test. What left-wing activists like Chris Matthews say about them tells us nothing about Charles and David Koch, but a great deal about Chris Matthews.

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