FreedomWorks chairman Dick Armey, who appears in the special, called out the show's host, Chris Matthews, for his involvement, saying Matthews is "better than this." As the Washington Post's David Weigel reports, Armey's group and others are calling for a petition of sponsors of Mathews' program "Hardball." (Their focus is Dawn and parent company Proctor and Gamble.)
"The program 'Rise of the New Right' was low-ball journalism at its worst," the Kitchen Table Patriots said in a statement posted by Weigel. "The program demonized and misrepresented the Tea Party movement. Chris Matthews and his 'Hardball' program slandered the Tea Party movement, and misled the American people by distorting facts about the Tea Party movement, its motivations and it history."
Before the program aired, Matthews predicted in an interview with the Huffington Post that "the left will say this scares the heck out of me, people in the middle will say this is amazing, and people on the right will be cheering for all I know."
He appears to have been wrong on at least that last claim.
"It's a poor excuse of objective journalism," wrote a blogger at Hot Air. "Calling it a documentary is a pathetic joke."
One complaint from conservatives is that the documentary erroneously conflated disparate groups to serve its agenda.
"What do Tea Partiers, Truthers, birthers, Birchers, militias, Pat Buchanan, Jerry Falwell, Barry Goldwater, Joe McCarthy, Father Coughlin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Ronald Reagan, Strom Thurmond, Rand Paul, Alex Jones, Orly Taitz, and Oklahoma City bomber Tim McVeigh all have in common? Approximately nothing, but don't tell Chris Matthews," wrote Lachlan Markay at Newsbusters.
He continued: "The MSNBC 'Hardball' host spent the better part of an hour last night trying to associate all of these characters with one other. Of course he did not provide a shred of evidence beyond, ironically, a McCarthyite notion that all favor smaller government, and are therefore in league, whether they know it or not, to overthrow the government. Together, by Matthews's account, they comprise or have given rise to the 'New Right.'"