On Wednesday, Antifa was given prominent and positive coverage on MSNBC and not only did it go beyond the pro-Antifa MTP Daily segment but extended to Hardball. Host Chris Matthews featured a guest that gushed over the violent leftists as “diverse” and mostly “peaceful” while another was pathetic unprepared.
When Matthews seemed curious about why there were people in Charlottesville with “clubs...jumping in” but not on the side of neo-Nazis, Brooks shamefully defended the violent group denounced by the Department of Homeland Security as simply “protecting themselves.”
Surprisingly, Matthews kept pressing to the point that Brooks hilariously admitted that she’s “not an expert on Antifa”:
MATTHEWS: There was one group that was jumping in and punching the Nazi types. I have seen pictures from — I have seen a lot of pictures, like you have. And I have seen people reaching in and slugging them. Who were those people?
BROOKS: Yes, but they — they may have been part of Antifa. Antifa is not a nonviolent group. So, let me just say that and the Southern Poverty Law Center certainly prefers and promotes nonviolent protests. But I do want to point out that there’s no moral equivalency between white supremacists, white nationalists, and Antifa.
MATTHEWS: Well, I know. I know. I’m with you on that. Let me ask you about this use of the term fascist. I remember in grad school, way back in the ‘60s, I first heard to somebody refer to a fascist as a business, anybody working in the administration at the time. Anybody working for Johnson. Anybody in the government. Any businessperson was a fascist. How loose a term is that for the Antifa people?
BROOKS: They’re very serious about it.
MATTHEWS: I know they’re serious objectively. But how wide a sweep do they say fascist? Do they mean Mussolini people? Who do they mean? Anybody they don’t like?
BROOKS: No, I believe that they’re referring to anti-democracy and kind of a rabid nationalism that we see that is growing in this country.
MATTHEWS: I thought they were opposed to globalization as well.
BROOKS: I couldn’t say. I’m not an expert on Antifa.
Matthews went next to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism’s Brian Levin, who stated that “[t]here is no moral equivalency and their cause is standing up to the bigotry and fascism that they see from white nationalists and they’re somewhat diverse.”
Levin only conceded that there’s “an offshoot” of Antifa “that is violent and must be condemned” before embarrassing himself in swooning over the black bloc, Marxist group:
But as someone who had his life at risk and protected a Klansman from a mob of these folks, I can tell that you there is an offshoot that is violent and should be condemned. However, when we see these protests, most of the counter-protests are peaceful. Most of the Antifa people are peaceful. However, to be sure, there’s a sliver that is violent and is looking to bash heads. And they should be condemned. But there is no moral equivalency between Nazis and white nationalists and a broad diversity of counter-protesters, which include a sliver of violent people.
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Matthews continued to distinguish himself from Chuck Todd, inching down the path of realizing that Antifa was similar to Occupy Wall Street and other violent protest groups, but Brooks wanted none of that. She suggested the conversation be diverted back to white supremacists:
BROOKS: They were in Charlottesville to stand against white supremacists.
MATTHEWS: No, I mean other cases, in other examples.
BROOKS: But that’s not what we’re talking about, Chris.
MATTHEWS: No, I’m talking about this. I want to know who these people are.
BROOKS: I understand, but when you do that, you feed into the false narrative that there’s some kind of equivalency.
MATTHEWS: How does information work into a false narrative? I’m trying to get the truth here.
BROOKS: We gave you information about who they are and what they believe in.
“So, there’s no moral equivalency with regard to Nazis. But I will say this that this is an reactive type of extremism and what is happening is these violent Antifa folks do not see them part of a democratic type of initiative. And they have to be separate from the more peaceful counter-protesters,” Levin responded.
Matthews asked Brooks to respond to “what you just heard,” but she declined because she was clearly in over her head:
Well, I think — I’d like to keep the conversation to Charlottesville and what happened in Charlottesville. I know that the Antifas came there to stand it’s against white supremacists to protect — I know that they protected — I heard that from Reverend Barber and from Reverend Blackman and that they protected the clergy from the white supremacists that night. They said that they saved their lives and so, I don’t want to lose that. I don’t want -- I don’t want the conversation now to about Antifa. We need to keep the focus on the white supremacists.
This left Matthews perturbed, so he informed her that “I’m going to ask the questions” because, “[t]hat’s the way this show works” since he “want[s] to learn from you, the experts.”
“Then you said you know nothing, you don’t know enough about Antifa. I want to learn. Brian is helping me and you’re challenging — I think we have to find out who are the violent people because, you know, we can argue about their points. Of course, the Nazis are the worst in terms of values and purpose. But if this other group wants to have trouble, they’re going to find trouble too, Lecia. They’re going to find trouble,” Matthews added.
Before the end of the segment, Levin also denounced Matthews as having muddied the waters between Antifa and white supremacists: “[T]here’s a broad set of Antifa folks, many of whom are in fact peaceful. But the bottom line is, we had an act of terrorism here. Why aren’t we talking about that?”
Here’s the relevant transcript from MSNBC’s Hardball on August 16:
August 16, 2017
7:35 p.m. Eastern
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well, invoking the term alt-left, the President created, you might say, a moral equivalence, I think, between the neo-Nazis and KKK member in one group and the counter-protesters known as Antifa, or anti- fascists. While there were self-professed anti-fascists, of course, among the protesters down in Charlottesville on Saturday, some reportedly wielding clubs, as the President noted, it was an alleged Nazi admirer who is now accused of plowing his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one woman and injuring 19 others.....Lecia, educate us to this. What — when we’re talking with the Antifa crowd, what are they really? I know their name is anti-fascist. Do they only go after fascists or do they go after anybody, say, in the global economic community they don’t like?
LECIA BROOKS: No. They are strictly principled anti-fascists. And what they see in the Trump administration and what they see happening in this country, they see the neo-fascism that we see and they have taken a principled stand to stand against white supremacists and white nationalists wherever they may show up. I like to point out that Antifa at Charlottesville protected peaceful protesters. I don’t know what President Trump was talking about.
MATTHEWS: Who were waving the clubs on that side? I mean, I looked at pictures that people were jumping in.
BROOKS: They were protecting themselves.
MATTHEWS: Anti-fascist is a great word, because we’re against fascism. Is that what they mean? If that is what they mean, fine, if that is what they mean.
BRIAN LEVIN: Yes, they do. But I’m going to diverge here.
MATTHEWS: Well, don’t diverge yet. I want to you explain who Antifa is, because Trump is calling them the moral equivalence of neo-Nazis and KKK members. Put that in perspective. What is their method? What is their cause, Antifa?
LEVIN: There is no moral equivalency and their cause is standing up to the bigotry and fascism that they see from white nationalists. And they’re somewhat diverse. But as someone who had his life at risk and protected a Klansman from a mob of these folks, I can tell that you there is an offshoot that is violent and should be condemned. However, when we see these protests, most of the counter-protests are peaceful. Most of the Antifa people are peaceful. However, to be sure, there’s a sliver that is violent and is looking to bash heads. And they should be condemned. But there is no moral equivalency between Nazis and white nationalists and a broad diversity of counter-protesters, which include a sliver of violent people.
BROOKS: Chris, let me also say, because I think it has to be said, that Antifa would not -- they would not be there if it weren’t for the white supremacists calling that rally, calling for the race war.
MATTHEWS: Obviously, Nazis are not equivalent to anyone else in terms of cause. They support racism and all the rest of it but in terms of method, is there a difference in their methods?
LEVIN: Sure. There’s a difference in their methods. Many of them are people of goodwill who are outraged at what they’re seeing with the division in our society and the racial hatred within our society and I understand that, but I also faced some of these folks who were armed with wooden planks and metal rods and who were going to murder somebody. And I’m going to tell you something. The fault of this starts with candidate Trump, who lit a fire, and is now complaining that —
MATTHEWS: Yes, I know.
LEVIN: — the bushes at his house got singed. So, there’s no moral equivalency with regard to Nazis. But I will say this that this is an reactive type of extremism and what is happening is these violent Antifa folks do not see them part of a democratic type of initiative. And they have to be separate from the more peaceful counter-protesters.
LEVIN: That being said, there’s a broad set of Antifa folks, many of whom are in fact peaceful. But the bottom line is, we had an act of terrorism here. Why aren’t we talking about that?
MATTHEWS: Yes, OK.
LEVIN: People armed with clubs is one thing. But like ISIS and white national extremist who represent the biggest extremist threats to the United States should be noted that this is a big deal. This is the big —
MATTHEWS: Brian, we have shown that picture over and over again of that terrible person ramming their car and driving it backwards to kill people. I know that and you’re dead right. That’s the heart of the violence here.
LEVIN: And we live in an era, we live in an era of reactive extremism.
MATTHEWS: We do focus on that. But we also want to learn all the players and thank you so much, Brian Levin. You’re great. And so is, Lecia, thank you. Lecia, please come back again.