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August 12, 2009

Let’s Play Hardball


Last evening, I was aghast that MSNBC and Chris Matthews “rewarded” one William Kostnic with a national platform for protesting outside Obama’s health care rally in Portsmouth, N.H. while openly displaying a 9mm pistol. In asking “when is this going to stop,” one has to take a hard look at programming decisions like this as an act of reinforcement.

Besides Mr. Kostnic’s rather smug manner, I thought it was also telling he chose to appear on the program in a t-shirt.

Meanwhile, Gawker puts the real issue right out there.

(Hardball video via MSNBC)

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p00e5523476cc8834 DennisQ

    I’m entertaining the thought that what’s happening is actually good for America. Many of the nutjobs we’re seeing on camera never thought they’d ever be heard. Now they’re getting a look at themselves. Call me naive, but shouting insults at a public meeting isn’t something to be proud of. Sooner or later, the realization is going to hit them.
    We call these people crazy, but actually they’re only people who’ve been shut out of the political process for so long that they’ve lost any sense of responsibility. They act like toddlers because that’s how they’ve been treated.
    I also suspect that Obama’s history as a community organizer has something to do with what we’re seeing. You get a bunch of people together and let them holler. Then when they’ve blown themselves out they’ll negotiate in earnest.
    As Americans, we’re putting on quite a show for the foreign press. I can’t imagine ordinary commoners in other countries being allowed to shout into the faces of political leaders.

  • Reece

    I’m not really seeing that.
    I’m seeing a group of angry, mostly white men, conservatives pushing a radicalized agenda because they’ve received faulty information from other white men.
    After sitting at home unchallenged by conventional sources of false news for so long, they’ve lost contact with anything remotely intelligible as actual fact.
    Oh, and this is not a grassroots effort. This is a wholly corporate funded mockery of responsible activism.

  • yg

    We call these people crazy, but actually they’re only people who’ve been shut out of the political process for so long that they’ve lost any sense of responsibility.
    i’m not so sure about that. this is the same crowd who called us terrorists & traitors because we opposed the war.
    They act like toddlers because that’s how they’ve been treated.
    this president has bent over backwards to be conciliatory. it’s only made them angrier. as reece implies, this is how they’ve been coached to act. the lobbyist produced playbook encourages them be disruptive.
    grown adults on medicare are hardly children whose spoiled behavior can be excused and blamed on bad parenting. they need to be held responsible for their own actions as we would for any other adult.
    I can’t imagine ordinary commoners in other countries being allowed to shout into the faces of political leaders.
    nice point.

  • bystander

    What Atrios said. And, I suppose he’s right. Certainly, there were mummers of concern in various progressive blog threads throughout the primary. And, I’d argue at least half weren’t of a concern troll nature.
    Looking at the screen shot you have here, the image portrayed is the legitimization (Matthews in his coat and tie with the station name and logo above) of a semi-scruffy looking man (t-shirt and visible five o’clock shadow), who displays a kind of smug amusement about having packed a 9mm pistol strapped to his leg (from Gawker), like he was a gunslinger of yore. And, our so called liberal media, who couldn’t be bothered to legitimize protests of the war in Iraq (a fringe group of DFHs, no doubt /snark), puts this dude on national TV. It’s a quintessential example of why I no longer watch TV, and haven’t for years. Increasingly, I’m beginning to view trad media as a real menace. Being clueless because you’re amped up on your own importance, savviness (h/t Jay Rosen), and insider-access is one thing. Featuring and spotlighting a potential assassin is another.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p01156f8ec755970c sdean7855

    A touchy thing to say…
    …and appearances are *not* reality
    …but this *is* a blog on image as presented in the media
    so I’ll say it:
    This guy’s facial physiognomy looks like that of a Neanderthal out of an old museum diorama.

  • Tena

    This was so so typical – the man claimed he brought the gun because our rights are in danger. His rights are so in danger he carried a damn loaded gun to where the president was speaking and he didn’t go to jail – he went on national TV.
    How stupid has this country gotten?

  • Apple

    My very first observation and I couldn’t get past it. Their branch died out didn’t it?

  • janet

    Exactly!

  • g

    Yes – it would be illuminating to hear whether the fellow still believes his rights are in danger, after having been given such an opportunity.

  • Gasho

    Looking at the first image – with Mathews frozen in a blink – eyes closed and looking down, I see him as a saddened news man. I see him as an unhappy front man for the bigger news channel owners who are pulling the strings and creating this Bizarro New World where the NUTS get their say as if they are the voice of America. I see the NUT on the right being surprised he’s getting to stand on the soap-box with his NUTTY message.
    Screw the damn media. They’ve become tools. The news is dead. They’re just fanning the flames at this point. Until they set the whole country ablaze. It most certainly is not about truth-seeking anymore, that’s obvious.

  • Stella

    Yes! Yes! Yes!
    We supply the pictures, W.R.Hearst (or his heirs) will supply the war.

  • bystander

    Consistent with the topic of this post, apparently someone has decided to add clarity to the Obama as Joker image.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p01053714e4e4970b Karen H.

    I was aghast as well…maybe for different reasons. That segment illustrated the fact that Chris Matthews’ ego often writes a check his intellect can’t cash. I believe he saw the interview as a chance to put a nutjob in his place through exposure. But the nutjob held his own. Why? Because Matthews’ and his staff didn’t investigate the guy before having him on. Kostnic is a Ron Paul follower and a hardcore libertarian…..a more benign nut than the more frightened, racist, low intellect nutjob white folks who have been invading town halls on Limbaugh’s orders to shout and scream and disrupt. Matthews wasn’t interviewing an emblematic representative (and frankly, I don’t think Kostnic had plans to shoot anyone), he was giving voice to the machismo-laced libertarian fringe. Note that the guy wasn’t IN the Town Hall, just protesting outside of it. His presence with the gun wasn’t a natural outgrowth of the current craziness at the Town Halls. Instead of stupid, Matthews got someone well-versed in Libertarian dogma and someone who basically held his own in the interview. A sort of aberration. If one of the nuts bent on disrupting town halls had been discovered with a gun, it would have been hidden in his underwear. Those folks are operating out of fear and confusion with racism as a unifying theme.

  • bystander

    With all due respect, please allow me to introduce uou to this Ron Paul and David Neiwert’s blog Orcinus. Do I place all Ron Paul supporters in the group Neiwert is concerned about? No. Do, I hold Ron Paul responsible for Glenn Beck’s position wrt the “teabaggers” and the town halls. No. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t like being heads-up about some relationships.

  • Tena

    “and frankly, I don’t think Kostnic had plans to shoot anyone”
    I find that such a comfort.
    Not.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p01053714e4e4970b Karen H.

    Oh, I’m aware. Orcinus is an incredible resource. And I agree not all Paul’s followers fit into that group (have an aunt and uncle who supported Paul but are otherwise sane). Still, for the purposes of these town halls, I find them less potentially dangerous than the screamers who have appeared to on camera to lose control.

  • Heron

    I believe Kostnic was presenting a deliberate provocation – if he had been arrested, or hauled away from the location, or had his gun confiscated, Barack Obama would be seen as taking away the god-given rights of Americans to tote guns around for no good reason. Potentially, a big propaganda win there, I think. And NOT being arrested or whatever encourages other loons to do the same. Win-win.

  • Tena

    ” And NOT being arrested or whatever encourages other loons to do the same. Win-win. ”
    I may not be reading this right, because the way I read it it is hardly a win. If it encourages other loons to do the same thing, how is this a win? I get the PR thing and got that from the start, though, frankly, I think it’s insane. I’m from Dallas – this country has gone mad to allow anyone with a loaded gun around where the president is speaking.
    But I get it.
    I just don’t get how encouraging other loons to show up with guns when the president is speaking is a win. I must be misreading you -

  • Heron

    No – win-win from his point of view.
    From my point of view, taking a gun to a public event, let alone one the President will attend is an act of utter loonacy and probably an expression of pathology.

  • gryphon

    the noise machine was allowed to brand CENTRIST media behaviour as LIEBERAL it’s now a fact to the masses.
    the noise machine will brand the mushy middle of the road political creature Obama as a FACIST and THREAT to HUMANITY! Grandma Must Die!!
    piss in the water when it’s not your turn, poison the discourse and test the boundaries of what you can say on teevee and what you can do in the public arena. They HAVE to stop him and will burn dozens, hundreds of follower nuts to make it happen.
    open discussion if it’s time for a revolution on certain websites, hijacking real patriotic images and slogans to bolster their Let’s Take Back OUR Country jihad.. this freak out would have happened but to a much lesser degree if Hill had won. she would still totally be after their guns!!
    T shirt jerk has the look of someone who Hates America. you can see it in his face. all of the angry, smug smirking pasty white faces carrying O-Joker signs or guns to TOWN HALLS where concerned people had gathered to discuss their concerns like adults. They LOVE the hazy memory they have of America from when they were young and there wasn’t anyone of flavor living in their hood. The take me as I am today America, not so much..
    8 years not a peep from these creeps except when they put on purple heart bandages to smear yet another leftie…
    these creatures don’t remember, showing up anywhere near the prez with a loaded gun a couple years ago was a no no punishable by whatever they felt like doing to you which no one would ever know about.. it would have been assumed you were crazy and would use it. he had the cops to defend him why was he in fear at this gathering? also why give him a platform to repeat his crazy?
    the barbed wire enclosed FREE SPEECH ZONES are gone.. does the media even mention it even though we need them now more than ever! give every one of them a psych screening before they’re released.. I’d pay taxes for that.

  • ABM

    FSM forgive me, but I was just thinking he looked like W’s (more) retarded cousin.

  • Diferencia

    Heron,
    I completely agree with the antisocial and pathological reading you have given Kostnic. After Virginia Tech, how can we see it otherwise? MSNBC should be more than ashamed of itself–it’s aiding and abetting a potential massacre.
    Not the kind of thought I want to have before going to sleep, but it has to be confronted. Thanks everyone for their observations.
    Peace.
    Diferencia

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p00e5523476cc8834 DennisQ

    I thought it was also telling he chose to appear on the program in a t-shirt.
    Well, he couldn’t very well show up in his work clothes.

  • Gasho

    BRAVO, gryph!!!

  • JRH

    Protests and anger about government run healthcare is really just one of the straws that has brought concerned people from their homes. The bailouts for the banks and the auto industry, cash for clunkers, claims from the government about creating jobs, increased taxes, tax burdens that run >65% for the average American, trippling of the national debt, running deficits in the trillions of dollars all are bringing the people who pay the bills out to tell the government to get back to constitutional limits. Those of you who think these people are not grass roots but are oganized by big business or the republicans I believe are underestimating what is happening. Most of these people have the same contempt or the republicans and the democrats.
    With all these things going on, including a >300% increase in the money supply over the last year, you can expect to see hyper inflation kick in and the economy to continue to get worse over the next couple of years. This will be as bad or worse then the Jimmy Carter era.

  • yg

    these creatures don’t remember, showing up anywhere near the prez with a loaded gun a couple years ago was a no no
    i had a similar thought. what if it had been somebody muslim carrying a legally sanctioned gun? attending a nearby bush event? all the people now making excuses for this “tshirt jerk” (ha!) would have gone nuts. there wouldn’t have been any of the pooh-poohing “oh, he’s not a threat, it’s a legal weapon” BS.

  • yg

    The bailouts for the banks and the auto industry, cash for clunkers,
    what if obama didn’t take these actions, and as a consequence a depression resulted?

  • http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tentrillion/themes/bush.html yg

    jrh: [obama] trippling of the national debt, running deficits in the trillions of dollars all are bringing the people who pay the bills out to tell the government to get back to constitutional limits.
    excuse me? from republican senator judd gregg:
    There is no question the Republican Party did not do a good job governing on the side of fiscal restraint, which should be one of our strengths. Here’s a party who have always stood for fiscal restraint, a smaller government, lower taxes and a strong national defense. …
    But there is no question we didn’t do a good job on restraining the growth of government, and we spent a lot of money we didn’t have. Things like the [Medicare] Part D drug program were truly a big mistake from the standpoint of fiscal policies. The Part D drug program alone added an $8 trillion unfunded liability to the federal books. If we were going to put that program on the books, we should have paid for it.

    bush left a legacy of $8 trillion unfunded liability just for passing medicare part d alone. did you get that? $8 effing Trillion! just for one bush program alone. that’s not even including the cost for the unpaid for tax cuts and the unpaid for 2 wars. bush didn’t bother to pay for anything in passing programs. republicans got rid of “paygo” to override that requirement. it took democrats to reinstitute “pay as you go” once again in order to rein in the deficit that bush exploded after clinton left him a freaking surplus.
    what is it with you republicans who think you can have your cake and eat it too? it was the height of irresponsibility that bush thought he could have tax cuts and pass all the programs he wanted without paying for it. it was cheney who said deficits don’t matter. now democrats have to clean up after republicans freaking mess. and get blamed for causing it, to boot. instead of tax and spend, you guys were all about borrow & spend – which is even worse. republicans have a lot of nerve to posture as fiscal conservatives when their track record clearly shows that’s not the case.
    this the consequence of the republican love for tax cuts (for the rich) has wrought:

    generational theft? explain this to your grandchildren.

  • http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=692 yg
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