Accuracy in Media

On Tuesday, MSNBC’s Hardball host Chris Matthews interviewed both the head of the United Auto Workers (UAW) in Michigan and the state director of Americans for Prosperity (AFP) about the state legislature’s passage of a right-to-work law earlier that day.

Matthews started by quizzing UAW Michigan president Bob King about the union’s reaction, and commended him for his answer about political contributions by the union, which King labeled as voluntary.

Matthews then turned to AFP Michigan state director Scott Hagerstrom and instead of focusing on policy, as he had done with King, he hammered Hagerstrom on AFP’s ties to the Koch Brothers by repeatedly asking him who pays his salary.

Matthews: Why are Republicans and your organization against unions? This is pretty much a union-gutting operation. You would like to see, you work for the Koch brothers. They don’t like unions. Why are you working for them?

Hagerstrom:  You know, I work for Americans for Prosperity. This is not about the Koch Brothers. This is about freedom…

Matthews:  Who’s paying your salary?

Hagerstrom:  I work for Americans for Prosperity who are non-profit.

Matthews continued to ask Hagerstrom who pays his salary and Hagerstrom answered Americans for Prosperity each time.

After this back and forth, a visibly frustrated Matthews accused Hagerstrom of not answering his question since he wouldn’t mention the Koch Brothers, who are the main but not the sole backers of AFP.

Hagerstrom pointed out to Matthews that AFP Michigan had more than 3,000 donors and 87,000 activists, but that didn’t matter to Matthews who was in full anti-Koch brothers mode.

Matthews went on to heap more praise on the UAW and allow King to talk about policy, while limiting Hagerstrom’s ability to do so, since that wasn’t what he was interested in hearing from him.

Liberals like Matthews and their union allies are extremely unhappy with the passage of the right-to-work law, since it gives workers a choice on whether to join a union or not and weakens the political clout of the unions.

Matthews apparently thought he had an easy mark in Hagerstrom, but he more than stood on his own against the belligerent host and made Matthews look like a front man for the UAW.

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