On Fox News today, Glenn Beck decided that the entire religion of Islam would be a good target of mockery.
Conservative media figures have repeatedly claimed or suggested that it would be unprecedented and "corrupt" for Democrats to address "controversial" issues during Congress' lame duck session following the 2010 elections. But in 1998, Republicans impeached President Clinton during such a post-election congressional session.
Glenn Beck informed his viewers today that President Obama recently played basketball with NBA star LeBron James, a sure sign that the president is out of touch, right?
Fox Nation says "Speaker Pelosi Jumps the Shark" and repeats the claim on their home page:
The problem with this assertion is that the story they've linked to doesn't actually contain those words or that sentiment. The story Fox Nation links to, from Politico, shows Speaker Pelosi describing what she feels the Republican party's role is in the most recent unemployment report. The story says nothing about sharks or any sort of jumping. That element is purely the invention of the editors or whoever cranks out the headlines at Fox Nation. The story doesn't even mention the Fonz.
If you thought Rush Limbaugh would simply be content to just echo his fellow conservatives in a misguided and counterfactual attack on Michelle Obama by comparing her to and calling her "Marie Antoinette" you would be very wrong. Today, he added to that smear the racially charged rhetoric that he's employed for years.
Of course, neither side of the media divide gets it right 100% of the time, and Hall specifically cites the already infamous Shirley Sherrod case, in which conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart edited video to imply that Sherrod, an African-American former USDA official, had withheld aid from a white farmer.
Sherrod was asked to resign, and now plans to sue Breitbart. "[The media] should be ashamed of ourselves at what happened. Even though it was a certain blogger that started an irresponsible journey, we didn't stop it," Hall confesses. "But I think that's part of the learning curve, the 'teachable moment.' It was a real kick in the gut for credible journalists."
Of course, before the entire Sherrod episode, it was clear that Andrew Breitbart's work wasn't to be trusted. Whether it was attacking ACORN, smearing Kevin Jennings, or even Maoist Christmas tree ornaments, Breitbart's m.o. was clear before he targeted Sherrod. The media should never have carried his water. Hopefully they won't do so in the future, but it's not the best track record.
Earlier this week Media Matters noted Rush Limbaughs comments about the use of chemical dispersants in the Gulf oil spill: "God and the ocean can handle the dispersants." Today Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) responded during a hearing for the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, calling Limbaugh's comments "callous" and "irresponsible":
In response to a column by Simon Greer of Jewish Funds for Justice that criticized Glenn Beck's attacks on social justice and said "to put humankind first is to put the common good first," Beck said that to do so "leads to death camps" and that "a Jew, of all people, should know that." According to Michael Calderone of Yahoo! those comments reportedly prompted a meeting between Greer and Fox News executives (including network president Roger Ailes), in which the executives acknowledged Beck had "crossed the line":
Simon Greer, chief executive of Jewish Funds for Justice, told The Upshot that when Greer approached them, Ailes and senior vice president Joel Cheatwood agreed that Beck crossed the line in comparing Greer's worldview to that of the Nazis and promised to speak with Beck about the matter.
Two days later, Greer said he received a handwritten letter from Beck.
The Upshot learned of the July 26 meeting and Fox's response to Beck's comments through an email Greer sent to key supporters and allies of his organization. Greer confirmed the authenticity of the email which was passed along to The Upshot by a source.
It's noteworthy that with all the smears, attacks, and violent imagery produced by Beck on a regular basis, this is one of the few times any sort of network action appears to have taken place. Indeed, Newscorp executives did not denounce -- and in the case of CEO Rupert Murdoch, at times endorsed -- Beck's claim that President Obama is a "racist."
Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, has written a column on The Huffington Post about Glenn Beck's violent rhetoric, specifically its role in an aborted attack against frequent Beck target the Tides Foundation:
Williams pulled the trigger on those two officers, but Beck's harsh rhetoric against Tides and other leaders of progressive groups, whom he identifies as "enemies," have helped stoke the fires of outrage in a sector of the American public that is armed and eager to do battle with foes that they believe -- or have been led to believe - are in some way destroying our country.
Beck acknowledges that he has viewers who are capable of responding violently to his hyperbolic accusations. He has warned, "it is only a matter of time before an actual crazy person really does something stupid."
Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.) recently lost a primary for the seat he's held from 1993-1999 and since 2005 to a conservative challenger. In an interview with Mother Jones' David Corn, he discusses the spread of misinformation from the conservative media and how he feels it has affected the Republican party. Discussing a meeting Inglis held with conservative donors:
"They were upset with me," Inglis recalls. "They are all Glenn Beck watchers." About 90 minutes into the meeting, as he remembers it, "They say, 'Bob, what don't you get? Barack Obama is a socialist, communist Marxist who wants to destroy the American economy so he can take over as dictator. Health care is part of that. And he wants to open up the Mexican border and turn [the US] into a Muslim nation.'" Inglis didn't know how to respond.