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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Beck, Fox News, the Militia Message and Your Money

Eric Boehlert’s post “Post-Hutaree: How Glenn Beck and Fox News spread the militia message” at Media Matters for America merits a read, not only by progressives, but also by moderates, and even conservatives, who draw the line at supporting violence. Boehlert reports:

Not only have the number of radical-right extremist groups exploded in the wake of President Obama’s election (more than 500 today, as compared to just 200 during the 1990s), but these militia members now have a proud sponsor in the person of Fox News’ Glenn Beck, who has done more than any other person to amplify and mainstream the movement’s hateful and foreboding anti-government message. Beck continues to give a voice, and national platform, to the same deranged, hard-core militia haters and self-style “patriots” who hounded the new, young Democratic president in the early 1990s in the wake of Waco.
On TV and the radio, Beck rarely bothers to mention the militia movement by name. Instead, he’s simply co-opted their rhetoric as his own. He’s acted as a crucial transmitter, warning about Obama fronting his own private “army,” and urging followers to “start food storage.”
Not to mention these previous militia moments:
Beck asserts: “The second American revolution is being playing out right now”
Beck says “what is ahead may loosen the bonds of society,” may end with “a French Revolution”
Beck: “There is a coup going on … it has been done through the guise of an election”
Beck: “You can’t convince me that the founding fathers wouldn’t allow you to secede”
Beck: “[I]f we don’t have some common sense, we’re facing the destruction of our country… it’s coming”
The truth is that the daylight separating the radical, anti-government militia movement from self-styled mainstream conservatives is growing dimmer by the day. Like the fact-free Obama birthers, the militia remains a radical subset that today’s right wing refuses to part ways with. That sad fact was highlighted when scores of far-right media voices initially downplayed the Hutaree arrests last week, or even defended the militia members and — disturbingly reminiscent of Waco — cast the FBI and the federal government as the over-reaching bad guys.
And at Fox News, it’s not just Beck. The cable “news” channel’s militia-flavored message (beware gun-toting IRS agents!) has been as simple as it’s been relentless: Obama is destroying this country and he’s doing it intentionally. It’s not that people disagree with Obama and don’t like what they call his “liberal” policies as applied to the economy and health care reform, etc. Instead, the conflict is much more dire. Obama is not just misguided in this political and legislative agenda. Instead, Obama is the incarnation of evil (the Antichrist?), and his driving hatred for America, as well as for democracy, runs so deep that he ran for president in order to destroy the United States from within.

I’m old enough to remember a time when leading conservatives were champions of the police and law enforcement. Those days appear to be over, as Boehlert explains:

Blogger Pamela Geller complained that the FBI raids were “nuts.” Glenn Beck’s radio guest host Chris Baker decried the Hutaree arrests as “nothing more than attack on faith and free speech.” And Washington Times columnist and frequent Fox News talker Monica Crowley likened Hutaree members to proud patriots, as she squarely placed the blame on the government for squelching the militia’s right to dissent…Keep in mind that both Geller and Crowley conveniently forgot to inform readers that the militia members had been arraigned on charges of plotting to kill cops. Apparently that fact no longer moves the needle in today’s right-wing media, which has severed its traditional ties with the law-and-order movement and instead today pledges its allegiance to whoever hates the government — and Democrats — the most.

Boehlert also provides a graphic of the “Tea Party Patriots” website, “the official home of the American tea party movement,” which claims the Hutaree militia with the headline “FBI Raids Tea party Compound.”
Somewhere there must be some conservatives who are repulsed by the glorification of allegedly would-be cop-killers. Even Elizabeth Hasslebeck, house conservative of the popular daytime chat show “The View,” condemned Sarah Palin’s Facebook graphic putting the districts of progressive members of congress in a gunsight crosshairs. If you don’t think this sort of thing encourages violence, consider this report from today’s New York Times about the arrest of Charles A. Wilson, who allegedly threatened to kill Senator Patty Murray for her support of HCR:

“I hope you realize, there’s a target on your back now,” Mr. Wilson said in a recorded voice mail message on March 22, according to the criminal complaint. “There are many people out there that want you dead.” He added, “It takes only one piece of lead. Kill the [expletive] senator! Kill the [expletive] senator! I’ll donate the lead…Not only do I say ‘kill the bill.’ I say, kill the [expletive] senator too, ’” Mr. Wilson said in another message, according to the complaint. “Kill the bill. Kill the senator, too.”

Media Matters for America reports that 80 or more sponsors have dropped Glen Beck, after he called President Obama a “racist” who harbors “deep-seated hatred for white people.” According to MMA‘s “So who’s still advertising on Beck? April 6 edition..,” the list of Beck’s current sponsors includes:

American Petroleum Institute
Wholesale Direct Metals
Pajama Jeans
Citizens 4 Healthcare
Rosland Capital
Easy Water
Tax Masters
Weekly Standard
Dish Network
Lear Capital
Foundation For A Better Life
Merit Financial
Wall Street Journal
Goldline International

One would think that companies like the Wall St. Journal and Dish Network could lose a lot of customers by supporting inflammatory hate TV. Perhaps they assume progressives don’t watch Beck/Fox, so they probably wouldn’t think to take their business elsewhere.

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