MSNBC's Hayes Says He Supported Tea Party Protest Tactics - but Here's What He Actually Said at the Time


On Friday, as footage began to emerge of protesters in Washington surrounding and harassing politicians and others who attended President Donald Trump’s nomination acceptance speech at the White House, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes came out to tell us that he’d always thought this was a positive thing.

In fact, he said it was such a positive thing because of how he’d covered the Tea Party movement back in the early days of the Obama presidency.

“I remember saying this during the Tea Party protests, and I’ll say it now: Screaming at elected officials is quite literally one of the blessings of liberty and living in a free society,” Hayes wrote on Twitter.

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This was a curious take, because I never remember seeing anything like this during the Tea Party protests:

But anyway, it turns out that comparing this to the Tea Party back in 2009 wasn’t the only thing that Hayes — host of MSNBC’s “All In” — got wrong. He also forgot he thought the Tea Party was so menacing it made it hard for democracy to function.

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His thoughts on the Tea Party came before he was an MSNBC host, mind you, merely a contributor. At the time, he was a writer for The Nation.

Conservative podcaster Zaid Jalani pointed it out on Twitter later on Friday. First, he noted that Hayes’ wasn’t exactly accurate in his depiction of what happened to U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and others who were assaulted on by leftists on Thursday night.

“I think this is a poor description of what happened with Paul. Someone threw a bike at him and shoved a police officer at the ground to try to get to him,” he wrote. “But let’s see what else Chris Hayes was actually saying during this time. Make sure you check out my next tweet.”

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Which was indeed quite the doozy:

He was appearing on Rachel Maddow’s show as Maddow was wringing her hands over the “health care town hall mob scenes” that she said were going on regarding Obamacare.

Maddow questioned whether this strategy was similar to the so-called “Brooks Brothers riot” during the 2000 recount, a memory that was a much fresher wound to the left then than it is now. Basically, a bunch of GOP operatives who were protesting the ongoing recount famously disrupted a meeting of election canvassers in Miami-Dade County; the congressman who apparently started the whole chain of events, when he heard about the recount, supposedly issued the order, “Shut it down!”

By watching the full clip, it’s clear Maddow was trying to paint the Tea Party as a phony conservative movement astroturfed by operatives. (You can watch the full segment here, should you be so inclined.)

However, the thing about Hayes is that he seemed to believe it was a legitimate danger and that he thought the Obamacare protests reminded him of the “Shut it down!” days.

“I can imagine that it’s difficult to sort of conduct any kind of public discourse, any kind of small-D democratic politics in the face of this sort of implacable bullying, braying and intimidation,” Hayes said.


Hayes has also issued dodgier defenses of the harassment and intimidation of politicians by protesters, including inexplicably comparing the assault on Paul and others to the Pril protest inside Michigan’s state Capitol early in the lockdown where open-carry aficionados had long guns with them:

Actually, the way this works is, what happened in Michigan was entirely legal. The presence of guns might be worrisome, but those Michigan protesters were entirely within their rights to do so.

What happened in Washington, on the other hand, was an assault on a United States senator that was, in all probability, only halted by the presence of armed police officers — men with badges and guns who got between the mob and its intended victims.

The reality here is that Hayes is trying to defend the indefensible — and misrepresenting his own statements to do it.

During the Tea Party protests, which were rather civil by the standards of Code Pink during the Iraq War — much less what happened Thursday after President Trump’s acceptance speech — Hayes seemed genuinely disturbed about the threat to our small-D democratic way of life.

Now, protesters threatened numerous conservative figures — including Rand Paul, who has already been the subject of a vicious assault by a neighbor — and Hayes is telling us this is the kind of behavior he defended from the Tea Party.

Forget his faulty memory about just what the Tea Party did or didn’t do — Hayes either can’t even remember what he said about them in the first place or conveniently misplaced those memories when it provided him with a tenuous argument about why it was perfectly OK to intimidate Sen. Paul and his wife.

It wasn’t. And even Chris Hayes probably know it.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture