When I saw the recently released PPP poll concerning America's belief in "conspiracy theories," I knew someone in the media would cherry-pick it to trash conservatives.
Living down to my lowest expectations was MSNBC's Chris Matthews who on Wednesday's Hardball chose to use the poll to attack Republicans as well as "the peanut gallery for Glenn Beck and company" without ever mentioning any Democrat responses (video follows with transcript and commentary):
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: How crazy are we as a country?
Just when you think the birther has quieted down for a while, we get new numbers from Public Policy Polling showing some Americans are keen to believe conspiracy theories that are ripped from a supermarket tabloid and, not surprisingly, Republicans are keen to believe anything that makes President Obama look bad. Anti-Christ, anyone?
Here to have some with the data are Lizz Winstead, creator of "The Daily Show", and "Mother Jones`" D.C. bureau chief, David Corn, who`s also an MSNBC political analyst.
Thank you both.
Let`s start with the wild one. Do you believe President Obama is the antichrist? Let me just give you a refresher, so we all know exactly what that means. Webster defines antichrist as, quote, "One who denies or opposes Christ, specifically as a great antagonist expected to fill the world with wickedness but to be conquered forever by Christ in his second coming."
Well, 13 percent of Americans, one in six, and 22 percent of Romney voters believe Obama is the antichrist. Incredible. Another 13 percent can`t make up their minds.
Yes, but far more interesting than what the Romney voters thought was that 5 percent of Obama voters also think the current White House resident is the anti-Christ.
Not surprisingly, Matthews didn't feel that was newsworthy, nor did he consider it important that 6 percent of Democrats and 13 percent of Independents also believe this.
But that was just the beginning:
MATTHEWS: Here`s another gem here. Eleven percent say that the government knew about and let the 9/11 attack happened. The same amount, by the way, aren`t sure whether the government, did or didn`t try to stop it.
You'll notice Matthews chose to not give any breakdown on this one. Want to know why? Because more Obama voters believe this nonsense than Romney voters.
13 percent of Obama voters in this poll were Truthers versus 8 percent of Romney's.
The breakdown along party lines was 14 percent of Democrats, 8 percent of Republicans, and 12 percent of Independents.
I guess Matthews didn't want his viewers to know that most Truthers are Democrats and Independents.
But there was more:
MATTHEWS: Anyway, who could forget that night in May 2011 when the president announced Osama bin Laden had been killed by a team of elite Navy SEALs over in Pakistan? Well, apparently, 6 percent of the country didn`t believe that it ever happened. They believe the whole thing was faked and 11 percent aren`t sure.
Once again, no breakdown here. Want to know why?
Well, 4 percent of Obama voters believe bin Laden is still alive compared to 6 percent of Romney's. I guess Matthews didn't want his viewers to know that.
MATTHEWS: Finally, the climate change, the theory conservatives love to hate. Do you believe global warming is a hoax? Not that it`s in dispute scientifically.
Is it a hoax perpetrated by the environmentalists? Thirty-seven percent of the voters say yes. In fact, the majority of Romney voters, 61 percent, three out of five of Romney voters believe it was a hoax perpetrated by people, made up, cooked up, to fight industry.
LIZZ WINSTEAD, CO-CREATOR, "THE DAILY SHOW": Yes.
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: I mean, this is one of the worst pieces of data here.
MATTHEWS: Because it matters.
CORN: Because it matters a lot. You also had 28 percent believing Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11. That matters, too.
CORN: All this happens because people are being, in this instance, being given the wrong information, and they`re buying it.
MATTHEWS: This is -- Lizz, this is the peanut gallery for Glenn Beck and company. They were playing to people who are so paranoid, so crazy, they think the whole world is cooking up things against them.
Isn't it fascinating that the folks at PPP actually included "global warming hoax" in a poll about conspiracy theories? Tells you what their politics are.
As for Matthews, notice that he chose not to inform his viewers that 12 percent of Obama voters also think AGW is a hoax.
As for party breakdown, 11 percent of Democrats, 58 percent of Republicans, and 41 percent of Independents don't believe this theory.
As such, calling such people "the peanut gallery for Glenn Beck and company" is preposterous.
In conclusion, I find it funny that pundits such as Matthews often say "the devil is in the details."
That may be true, but for this MSNBC anchor like so many of his colleagues, the devil often is in withholding the details because those pesky little devils often interfere with the agenda.