MSNBC Hopes Women’s March is Left’s Tea Party

On Thursday morning, the hosts of Morning Joe discussed the Women’s March that took place on Saturday, January14th. Their guest, Nancy Gibbs, editor in chief of Time magazine, spoke about the cover this week, which focused on the Women’s March and how it will materialize into a movement. During the discussion, there was frequent mentioning of the Tea Party movement and how liberals could emulate the success of the conservative protest.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI:  Joining us now, the editor in chief of Time magazine, Nancy Gibbs, this week’s cover story is, The Resistance Rises: How a March becomes a Movement. And this– We had a lot of debate on this show about was the march just a march? And one, I think, major point in that conversation is that march was a massive data grab of names, phone numbers, and people who want to have their voices heard.

NANCY GIBBS: Right. I mean it turns out there's some advantage in defeat when it comes to not just the energy and the momentum, but the determination to let's have this be more than an expression of feeling. This has to turn into action. We're gonna see over the coming months whether they’re able to accomplish what – you know they are studying the Tea Party and some Hill staffers who watched how the Tea Party was able to succeed have created a primer on how to lobby Congress. That's been downloaded half a million times.

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The entire panel of Morning Joe all agreed that the march mimicked elements of the Tea Party movement and implied the Women’s March could possibly be better and more organized. This, however, was interesting because of the negative tone MSNBC has had in the past when speaking about the Tea Party.

It was also mentioned that the original aim of the march was to make it about the women marching, rather than Trump. Despite this, many of the signs and speeches turned out to be anti-Trump instead.

WILLIE GEIST: So the – the groups explicitly wanted to be pro-women and not anti-Trump. That’s how they – that was the message, again, with obviously a lot of the signs and the comments from the stage were – were anti-trump. What– What are the demands? What do they want the outcome of all this energy, these incredible pictures that we all saw – And I think they took us by surprise how big a lot of these crowds were. What do they want to happen next? Is it electing more candidates? Is it finding a better presidential candidate three or four years from now?

NANCY GIBBS: Well, they know they have a significant challenge. It’s interesting something so big is, start small, think small. It has to start with state legislators, Democrats have 16 statehouses they – you know governors, the disproportion over the last eight years of the movement of the state level towards Republicans is gonna impact redistricting and – and so, you know, in the mid-term elections and beyond, it's crucial that they actually are getting voters out and running candidates who have a chance of winning.

Brzezinski and her co-hosts harped on how large the crowd size was on Saturday for the march and commended the group for getting that many people together, even though their message has not been clear.

HAROLD FORD JR.: I would imagine these numbers were so big. I understand what Michael is saying, but I would love having this crowd than coming up with a message or not -- or having a message and not having a crowd. So you’ve got a huge crowd. The Supreme Court nomination will come next week. That could be a galvanizing force. Obviously the politics in various states in electing people, but whether it’s collective bargaining rights whether it’s civil rights here, obviously will be issues to organize. What have you heard early on will be the – the organizing message to Michael's question?

GIBBS: I think that's one of their challenges because the principles of the march ran a thousand words long. It didn't distill to one single point. And, you know, intersectional feminism is not an easy sound bite--

HAROLD FORD JR.: That’d be a tough sound bite.

GIBBS: So, you know, I think that that’s a challenge. On other hand, the Tea Party over time, also a leaderless movement, as Michael says that was organic but that distilled a message about, you know, the constitution in small government, and then Obamacare. As it’s – By those town hall meetings that summer of 2009 it was all about Obamacare. And I think what will be interesting to watch with this movement is, what is the message and the issue that they distill.

Throughout the segment, and the entirety of the show, Friday’s upcoming March for Life was not mentioned at all.

Here is the full transcript of the January 26th exchange:

7:50 AM Tease
[7:51:51 - 7:57:21]

MIKA BRZEZINSKI:  Joining us now, the editor in chief of Time magazine, Nancy Gibbs, this week’s cover story is, The Resistance Rises: How a March Becomes a Movement. And this – We had a lot of debate on this show about was the march just a march. And one, I think, major point in that conversation is that March was a massive data grab of names, phone numbers, and people who want to have their voices heard.

NANCY GIBBS: Right. I mean it turns out there's some advantage in defeat when it comes to not just the energy and the momentum, but the determination to let's have this be more than an expression of feeling. This has to turn into action. We're gonna see over the coming months whether they’re able to accomplish what – you know they are studying the tea party and some hill staffers who watched how the tea party was able to succeed have created a primer on how to lobby congress. That's been download half a million times. The ACLU has hired new staffers. You're seeing much bigger attendance at meetings, with Emily's list recruiting candidates, all of this sort of on the ground who is going to be doing what to – you know, take state legislators back. All of that you're seeing and we're gonna watch this play out over the next two years.

WILLIE GEIST: So the – the groups explicitly wanted to be pro-women and not anti-trump. That’s how they– that was the message, again, with obviously a lot of the signs and the comments from the stage were – were anti-trump. What – What are the demands? What do they want the outcome of all this energy, these incredible pictures that we all saw – And I think they took us by surprise how big a lot of these crowds were. What do they want to happen next? Is it electing more candidates? Is it finding a better presidential candidate three or four years from now?

NANCY GIBBS: Well, they know they have a significant challenge. It’s interesting something so big is, start small think small. It has to start with state legislators, Democrats have 16 statehouses they– you know governors, the disproportion over the last eight years of the movement of the state level towards Republicans is gonna impact redistricting and – and so, you know, in the mid-term elections and beyond it's crucial that they actually are getting voters out and running candidates who have a chance of winning.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: So, Michael Steele, looking at these crowds though, I mean they are incredible. It was an incredible day, and I had a couple of marchers coming through my house on their way home from Washington from up in Maine. And this President actually proved that crowd size mattered when it came to this election. You know, a lot of people said it didn't translate sometimes for Bernie Sanders, would they come out and vote? I think we never had a chance to see whether that was true or not. But we did with Trump. I mean I saw the guy generate a crowd of 200 people at the drop of a hat on 9th avenue in New York City ten years ago. So it did translate for Trump. Does it translate for this movement?

MICHAEL STEELE: You know, that's a very good question. And – and I was just listening to, you know, all the planning and the meetings and you know, the organization structure, well that wasn't tea party. People forget tea party was organic, it was this desperate group of activists who decided to come together at a town hall meeting, or whatever, to express their concern about the way and the means of government. So then that moved into this idea, so how do we now talk to the American people in a way that we galvanize support around our issues? That was their success. I don't see that yet emerging from the left. What is your message? Is it an Elizabeth Warren message? Is it a Bernie Sanders message? What about mainstream Democrats who are beginning to feel edged out? The same kind of feeling that a lot of Conservatives began to feel and Republicans felt, particularly Rockefeller northeastern Republicans felt as the party moved more towards the south. So all of those dynamics I think, Mika, are gonna have to get played out. But the core thing that I certainly was important for my tenure at the RNC was message. We rallied around the idea of “Fire Pelosi” and it translated across the spectrum. And that’s the – That's the key thing I think for a lot of these folks.

HAROLD FORD JR.: Nancy, building on Michael's point, is this a way -- I would imagine these numbers were so big. I understand what Michael is saying, but I would love having this crowd than coming up with a message or not -- or having a message and not having a crowd. So you’ve got a huge crowd. The Supreme Court nomination will come next week. That could be a galvanizing force. Obviously the politics in various states in electing people, but whether it’s collective bargaining rights whether it’s civil rights here, obviously will be issues to organize. What have you heard early on will be the – the organizing message to Michael's question?

GIBBS: I think that's one of their challenges because the principles of the March ran a thousand words long. It didn't distill to one single point. And, you know, intersectional feminism is not an easy sound bite --

HAROLD FORD JR.: That’d be a tough sound bite.

GIBBS: So, you know, I think that that is a challenge. On other hand, the tea party over time, also a leaderless movement, as Michael says that was organic but that distilled a message about, you know, the constitution in small government, and then Obamacare. As it’s – By those town hall meetings that summer of 2009 it was all about Obamacare. And I think what will be interesting to watch with this movement is the message and issue that they distill around --

BRZEZINSKI: And just give me three names. Who are the leaders that emerged out of these marches?

GIBBS: I think at the moment the point of being leaderless is part -- I mean the people who are running to run the Democratic party were not there. Five out of six of the candidates were not at the March. They were out of town at a fundraiser. So this is --

BRZEZINSKI: Wow. At the fundraiser --

GIBBS:  Not seeing how this is going to play out.

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