Conservative media: BP was "persecuted" at "Stalinist," "witch trial" hearing

››› ››› CHRISTINE SCHWEN & KATE CONWAY

Right-wing media have complained that BP was "persecuted" at a congressional hearing on the company's role in the Gulf oil spill and compared the hearing to a "Stalinist show trial," "Inca ritual slaughter," the Salem witch trials, the McCarthy hearings, and the Romans feeding Christians to lions.

Conservative media use extreme rhetoric to defend BP from congressional "persecut[ion]"

Limbaugh: BP hearings are a "show trial. ... This is what happened in Stalinist Russia." On the June 17 broadcast of his radio show, Rush Limbaugh said that "what Waxman and these other Democrats want" out of the BP hearings "is for [BP CEO Tony] Hayward and any other BP exec to say things under oath that they can't possible know one way or another. This is a show trial. If we were back in the era of Stalin -- this is what happened in Stalinist Russia. This is exactly how show trials work. If you translated this into Russian, folks, this is exactly what would be going on in the old Russia, the old pre-Soviet Union days." He added that the hearings are "purely and simply a fraud."

Krauthammer compared the BP hearings to "Inca ritual slaughter." During the June 17 edition of Fox News' Special Report, Krauthammer said that "these hearings are always just political theatre," but that he "kind of welcome[s] these rituals. We haven't had a good Inca ritual slaughter since the Goldman Sachs hearings." Krauthammer added that unlike with an "Incan ritual slaughter," "we have a scarcity of virgins," and so "we send up a CEO instead. They whack him around for a whole day and everybody goes home happy. The only difference is that our procedure has less blood, but a lot more talking. I'm not sure which is preferable."

Kristol is "open-minded to the notion that BP is being persecuted." During the same edition of Special Report, Bill Kristol stated that he was "open-minded to the notion that BP is being persecuted by a demagogic congressional committee chairman, Henry Waxman -- which they are being."

Savage: "The Democrats have held a Stalinist show trial against BP. ... They're very, very clever devils indeed." During the June 17 edition of his show, Michael Savage stated: "All these Congress vermin do is threaten people and sue people. Secondly, while these hearings have been very informative, I would now like to see an equal set of hearings with the government put on the stand." Savage added: "What they've done here is very clever indeed. The Democrats have held a Stalinist show trial against BP. Perhaps rightly so in part, but what they've really done here is pass the buck. They're very, very clever devils indeed. What they've done is put the entire blame -- that is 100 percent of the blame -- on BP rather than on the Obama administration."

Levin claimed "Soviet-style spectacle" of BP hearings is part of "a huge cover-up." On the June 17 edition of his radio show, Mark Levin pushed a conspiracy theory revolving around the BP hearings, stating that "[y]ou have a huge cover-up going on" because the Minerals Management Service must have given BP permission to drill. Levin continued: "So we had a Soviet-style spectacle today where they bring in the CEO, this Tony Hayworth [sic] of BP, and they kick him around like a soccer ball. He's been well schooled by his lawyers, so he's not going to say anything that affects him or his company in a detrimental way. Obama's already said we're looking to bring criminal charges and civil charges and all the rest, so of course he's not going to sit there and sing like a bird, but Congress wants you to think it's really, really busy, it's really on your side, so they go through this spectacle."

Erickson: "Only thing separating" BP hearing from "Soviet show trial" is that Hayward "walked out without any lead in him." In a June 17 RedState.com post, Erick Erickson wrote: "And keeping with the honesty, let's also admit the Congressional hearing was a show trial. The only thing separating it from a Soviet show trial is Tony Hayward, the CEO of British Petroleum walked out without any lead in him. The result, however, will be the same as a Soviet show trial: not a single thing will happen. Nothing."

Beck compares BP hearings to McCarthy hearings, feeding Christians to lions. On the June 18 edition of his radio program, Beck asked during a discussion of the BP hearings, "How do we not see the McCarthy hearings in this and everything else that is going on in Washington?" He went on to criticize the tone of the hearings, stating, "If you have all of the facts, if you can nail them to the wall, there's no reason to get nasty." Beck concluded: "We are in a thugocracy. We are being run by criminals, and we've got a little puppet show just to entertain the masses. Why don't we bring some Christians out and feed them to lions?"

Beck on BP hearings: "[W]e've got Salem witch trials going on in Washington, D.C." On the June 18 broadcast of his radio show, Beck asserted: "Instead of saying to BP, 'Can you do this -- yes or no?' 'What are you doing?' 'How can we help you shutting it down?' Instead, no, no, no, we've got Salem witch trials going on in Washington, D.C." He went on to call the lawmakers involved "thugs and bullies."

Beck: Lawmakers in BP hearing "will be held in front of an eternal judge" and "will be praying" for "the mercy of Guantánamo." During the same June 18 broadcast, Beck attacked the lawmakers, asking, "Why don't you ask these dumb questions after we've stopped the oil leak?" He then said: "All of these people should be not only ashamed of themselves, they will be held in front of an eternal judge for what they have done to this country. ... They will be held in front of an eternal judge and they will be praying, praying, for the mercy of Guantánamo when they face that judge."

Beck claims "[t]here is no investigation going on" and suggests lawmakers' only expertise is "stealing from the American people." During the same broadcast of his show, Beck said of the federal government's investigation into BP: "They're not investigating. They are making speeches on television. That's all they're doing. There is no investigation going on here." Beck then suggested that the government instead investigate the details of one of his conspiracy theories, stating: "So you want to do some investigation? We have some investigation. You want to do some investigation? Go out -- send an investigator. You people in Washington, I don't even know what you do. What is your expertise besides stealing from the American people?"

Urbanski: "Rush was accurate" in calling hearings "Soviet-style public trial. ... It was horrible to watch." On the June 18 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show, guest host Douglas Urbanski called the hearings "theatre" and then stated: "I think Rush was very accurate when he called it a Soviet-style public trial. You know, in Japan, they commit hari-kari over things like this. We don't do this in the United States. It was sort of -- it was sort of horrible to watch."

Fox Nation calls BP hearing a "show trial." On June 18, Fox Nation's home page referred to the hearings as a "show trial," displaying the following:

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