Chris Matthews has been on somewhat of a roll over the last week or so, asking why the labor unions in the United States aren't taking a page from these astroturf tea partiers and showing up in Washington D.C. to protest on the weekends and send President Obama a message that they're concerned about jobs and getting our economy back on the right track.
On this Thursday's edition of Hardball, The Nation's John Nichols pushed back at Matthews assertion that there aren't union members out there hitting the streets and protesting and talked about what's been going on in Wisconsin for months on end now. What he did not really respond to is why we're not seeing massive numbers of protesters in our nation's Capitol. Nor did he ask Chris Matthews why our national media has largely been ignoring the protests that have been going on in Wisconsin and across the country and in our Capitol for weeks and months on end now.
I wish Nichols had asked Chris Matthews why, when unions and other liberal groups have held rallies in D.C., they've been either largely or completely ignored by our national media. The AFL-CIO just held a rally to protest Wal-Mart last week in D.C. in conjunction with some other groups. Did we hear any of these pundits on cable television talking about it? Of course not. But if twenty of these astroturf "tea party" members show up somewhere, we've got at times more from the media showing up to cover the events than we've got protesters.
I think Chris Matthews needs to look himself in the mirror if he doesn't understand why it appears to most people who watch cable television and apparently to himself that there aren't large numbers of working people and union members taking to the streets and holding rallies and why it's completely dishonest and disingenuous to compare real grass roots and union protests who don't have any big money behind them to the astroturf events they love to hype so much.
- There are large numbers of protests going on around the country, but the vast amount of them are local and not national and our national media ignores them.
- When liberal groups do sponsor events in D.C., no one in the national media is hyping them, much less covering them as we've seen from them with their breathless coverage of these astroturf "tea party" rallies.
- If Chris Matthews thinks unions members should be showing up in our nation's Capitol week after week, who does he think is going to pay to bring them there? Unions, unlike these astroturf "tea party" groups do not have big corporate money paying for buses to haul people across the country to show up at these rallies.
- And to that point, a good deal of these people that are showing up at the "tea party" events are retirees. How many union members does Chris Matthews think can afford to just drop everything and trek on up to D.C. week after week to attend a protest? And how many of them are working weekends in the first place? Just because you're a member of a union, that doesn't mean you have your weekends off, or that you or your union has enough spare cash laying around to pay for anyone to be attending rallies far from their homes.
I know of exactly one nationally syndicated show that does an adequate job of giving media coverage to protests by working people whether it be here in the United States or across the world, and that's Democracy Now. If Chris Matthews and the rest of our corporate media gave one tenth of the type of coverage she does week after week, day after day to the groups that are out there protesting, one, maybe more people would show up at them because they'd know about them in the first place. And two, maybe our politicians would pay a little more attention because sadly our politicians do seem to pay a lot more attention to our Villagers in the corporate media than they do to the working class that has been out there and voicing their grievances in public.
And that's not the fault of the dwindling number of unions we have left in the United States that Matthews apparently wants to blame here for not doing more so that our politicians quit ignoring their frustrations with the race to the bottom we've seen with their policies that are destroying what's left of the middle class in America. Unions are doing what they can. But they're surely not getting any help from Matthews and his ilk, which just makes it even more of an uphill battle. And segments like this one are harmful to that cause and not helpful with assigning blame where it doesn't belong.
Transcript below the fold.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me go back to John and then back to you, Josh.
I raised this issue about labor. And I`m labor. I like labor. And I think generally they`re a fabulous force for American life in the last 100 years. And if we didn`t have them, I don`t where we would be. We wouldn`t be anywhere good.
And my question is, why don`t they take up some of this animus, some of this excitement that the Tea Party has? Why aren`t they holding big demonstrations for jobs? It`s such a winner. You come to Washington with people in T-shirts in hot weather and they come in and they demonstrate, they speak, they get together, they have a tremendous sense of community and excitement.
And then the president gets the message and he can react to that. It gives him a foundation, you know, to bounce off and say, look, the people want jobs, I`m giving them jobs. I`m risking it, even if Republicans -- why don`t they do that, John? Why don`t they come out in the streets?
NICHOLS: Look, Chris, they did come out in the streets in Wisconsin in February and March. And it`s exactly what you described.
NICHOLS: There are people whose lives were changed by joining those mass demonstrations.
MATTHEWS: OK. Good.
NICHOLS: And the big frustration I have isn`t the Washington demonstration. It`s the fact that during these recall races, the Democrats, the Democratic strategists said, oh, don`t talk so much about labor rights. Soften the message. Dumb it down.
MATTHEWS: Oh, really.
NICHOLS: I think there`s a problem not only with labor, but with the Democratic Party not wanting to defend working people and labor issues.
MATTHEWS: Even unemployment?
NICHOLS: Even -- they`re lousy on it. This president -- you were just talking in that last segment, this president can`t get excited about unemployment. He couldn`t get energized and angry.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you.
Well, that`s a damning statement. Sir, that`s a tough, damning statement.
We`re going to listen to that woman for a while. Let that reverberate right now.