Chris Matthews takes down Tony Perkins over gay rights

Yes, Chris Matthews.

There’s an interesting backstory to this story (thanks to emailers for all of these links).

Matthews had previously been all deferential to Tony Perkins of the “Family Research Council” — not only by not challenging his lies and distortions, but by handing out cred like cookies with comments like those noted below (see first quote block).

But thanks to Obama’s sea-change (regardless of its cause), many in the media and government are getting religion, the real kind, and rethinking their gay positioning. Yes, this really was a big deal, what Biden–Obama did. (It probably helps to have the well-liked Rachel Maddow over there as well, spreading her think-this-through pixie dust.)

According to this story, someone confronted Matthews at a book signing in late March of this year, and the following occurred (video at the link; my emphasis and some reparagraphing throughout):

Last weekend, Faithful America members from the Boston area confronted Chris Matthews at a book signing in Framingham, Massachusetts about his track record of inviting Family Research Council President Tony Perkins on Hardball as a representative of Christian voters.

FRC was named a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2010 for spreading hateful lies and junk research about the LGBT community — and in part because of an incident in which a senior FRC staffer said on Hardball that there should be “criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior.”

Matthews, who just received Human Rights Campaign’s Ally for Equality award, responded by falsely claiming that Perkins has never “pulled that homophobic stuff on my show,” and insisting that “every time he’s on he’s challenged.” …

That’s just not true. … Instead, Matthews has gone out of his way to give credibility to Perkins, calling him an “honest conservative” with “true views” whose conscience he trusts. Viewers who trust Matthews’s judgment and honesty come away with the impression that they should do the same of Perkins. …

As you can see in the video [click link to play], when Faithful America member Jeff Bridges raises the question of legitimizing Perkins’s off-air comments, Matthews has no real response, admitting that “you may be right. I may agree with you, but not right now.”

The sea around Matthews has changed since then, and Matthews seems to have changed with it. Thus the new Matthews in this May 10 exchange with Tony Perkins (helped out by Barney Frank, who knows a thing or two). Watch:

This is how the media should treat Perkins, each and every time he appears. The “Family Research Council” has been named a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. That should be part of his intro wherever he goes.

(Why the quotes around “Family Research Council”? Because they don’t stand for real families; they don’t do research; and as far as I know they’re not a council, but the policy arm of Tony Perkins. Ever see anyone else but Perkins represent them?)

Good work, Mr. Matthews. Good work also by Jeff Bridges of Faithful America, who confronted him. See, not all religious people are not-religious — just a great many of them.


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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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