FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, October 11, 2010
Jess Levin (202) 772-8162
Media Matters releases explosive interview showing Glenn Beck's influence on man who planned to kill people at Tides Foundation
Washington, DC - Today, nearly three months after Byron Williams was arrested on his way to kill "people of importance at the Tides Foundation and ACLU," Media Matters for America released "Progressive Hunter," a report from journalist John Hamilton, who spoke with Williams at the California jail where he currently awaits trial. In his interviews with Hamilton, Williams described Beck as "a schoolteacher" and said "it was the things [Beck] exposed that blew my mind."
Excerpts from the interviews reveal the story of a man driven over the edge by conspiracy theories and extremist views promoted by media personalities like Beck, Michael Savage, David Horowitz, and Alex Jones.
Glenn Beck "Blew" Byron Williams' Mind:
"I would have never started watching Fox News if it wasn't for the fact that Beck was on there. And it was the things that he did, it was the things he exposed that blew my mind. I said, well, nobody does this."
Williams: Beck is "like a schoolteacher"
Byron says he thinks Beck has improved in recent months. "He's getting used to it," he says. "I don't think he's a natural newscaster, you know what I mean? I look at it more like a schoolteacher on TV, you know? He's got that big chalkboard and those little stickers, the decals. I like the way he does it."
Byron Williams instructs reporter John Hamilton to watch Beck's June shows:
Byron tells me I need to watch Beck's programs from June if I want to learn about the Soros-Obama-Petrobras conspiracy he heatedly described in our earlier conversation. "You need to go back to June -- June of this year, 2010 -- and look at all his programs from June. And you'll see he's been breaking open some of the most hideous corruption," Byron says. "A year ago, I was watching him, and it was OK, he was all right, you know? ... But now he's getting it."
Byron Williams: "Beck is gonna deny everything about violent approach [[...]] and deny everything about conspiracies, but he'll give you every reason to believe it"
"You know, I'll tell you," Byron says to me from the Santa Rita Jail, "Beck is gonna deny everything about violent approach and deny everything about conspiracies, but he'll give you every reason to believe it. He's protecting himself, and you can't blame him for that. So, I understand what he's doing."
Byron Williams: "If the truth incites violence ... we've been living too long in the lies."
"And I'd say, well, you know, that's the thing. It's that anything you do is going to be considered promoting terror attacks or promoting violence. So now they've got Beck labeled as this guy that is trying to incite violence. And what I say is that if the truth incites violence, it means that we've been living too long in the lies."
On July 17, minutes before midnight, Byron Williams, an ex-felon with a history of violent criminal behavior, was pulled over by California Highway Police on I-580 in Oakland, California. Williams reportedly opened fire at the officers as one approached his truck. He continued firing as eight additional officers arrived. More than 60 rounds were reportedly fired during the five- to eight-minute shootout; two officers were reportedly injured by flying glass after a squad car's window and windshield were shattered by gunfire. Williams was arrested and hospitalized with multiple gunshot wounds.
Williams was reportedly heavily armed with a handgun, a shotgun, a rifle, and body armor. Shortly after the shooting, a CHP sergeant said that "There is no doubt in our mind, given the body armor and the extensive amount of ammunition he had, that he was on his way to do a very serious crime against either someone or a group of people." And indeed, Williams reportedly toldinvestigators that "his intention was to start a revolution by traveling to San Francisco and killing people of importance at the Tides Foundation and the ACLU."
According to Media Matters' searches, the Tides Foundation has been mentioned 31 times on television since January 19, 2009, the day Beck's Fox News show premiered. Twenty-nine of those instances were on Beck's show, demonizing the Tides Foundation and featuring the organization in far-fetched conspiracy theories.
About John Hamilton:
John Hamilton anchors the Evening News on Pacifica Radio, an hour-long newscast heard on stations KPFA-Berkeley, KFCF-Fresno and KPFK-Los Angeles. He's also a producer with the national satellite channel Link TV, where he has produced programs including "Torture on Trial," which explored the growing movement calling for accountability for those who authorized and participated in torture. John is also a contributor to the national television and radio program Democracy Now!, where heworked as a producer from 2004 to 2007.