Beck's Incendiary Rhetoric Has Motivated Threats, Assassination Attempts
Research ››› ››› SOLANGE UWIMANA
During an interview on MSNBC's Hardball, Media Matters President and CEO David Brock accused Glenn Beck of being "responsible for three thwarted assassination attempts this year." Indeed, in each of the three examples Brock cited -- Gregory Giusti, Charles Wilson, and Byron Williams -- the incendiary and often violent rhetoric spewed by the Fox News host and elsewhere on the network was said to be a motivating factor, if not the inspiring factor, in the men's actions.
Brock: Beck "Has Been Responsible For Three Thwarted Assassination Attempts"
David Brock: "Glenn Beck Himself Has Been Responsible For Three Thwarted Assassination Attempts This Year." On January 12, Brock appeared on Hardball to discuss whether the violent rhetoric on cable news shows may have led to the shooting in Tucson, Arizona, that injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ). During the exchange with host Chris Matthews, Brock alleged that "Glenn Beck himself has been responsible for three thwarted assassination attempts this year":
MATTHEWS: I think we used to say, maybe back in the Churchillian age, your voice was your power, your ability to speak up. That's certainly Norman Rockwell's notion, the man, you know -- the standing up at a meeting, at a public meeting and saying, "Here's what I believe." But, now, it's standing up with your arms, standing up with your ammo, your gun sites, your bull's eye.
Why do you have -- this is a problem I have with the tea party. Why so many guns at these events? Why constantly referring to guns? What is it? Is it a throwback to the revolutionary age? They think they're in an armed revolution?
BROCK: Right. What does the tea party moniker stand for? Armed rebellion, right? This has been a theme of the Republican candidates and of Sarah Palin all year.
MATTHEWS: Excuse me. History lesson: The Boston tea party was a nonviolent economic statement against the Stamp Act, I believe. They threw the tea in the water. No guns.
BROCK: That's right.
MATTHEWS: They dressed up like Indians. It was a demonstration. It was street theater, OK? No guns.
BROCK: But this is not street theater, as you know. I mean, Glenn Beck himself has been responsible for three thwarted assassination attempts this year, and Sarah Palin hasn't condemned that.
MATTHEWS: How is he responsible for them?
BROCK: Well, you want to know what they are?
MATTHEWS: You said it.
BROCK: Yeah, sure. So, he burned Nancy Pelosi in effigy on his set. He tried to poison her with a chalice, OK? Some weeks later, somebody tried to firebomb Nancy Pelosi's house. That guy's mother went on television and said he gets all of his ideas from Fox News. Do you know about Senator Patty Murray and the death threat that she got?
MATTHEWS: No, go ahead.
BROCK: OK. It's recorded -- the guy says after the health care vote. He says you have a target on your back and I can accomplish what I want to accomplish with one bullet. Now he's tried, convicted, and in the sentencing phase, his cousin writes in for leniency, and she describes in a very chilling memo -- it's on our website -- that he was slowly drawn into Glenn Beck's world. And she portrays the guy, the attempted assassin, Charlie Wilson, as a victim of Beck.
And number three, which you probably do know about, this liberal foundation in San Francisco was targeted by a gunman, Byron Williams, in June. The shooter gave jailhouse interviews, and we published them, and he says Glenn Beck is this schoolteacher on television and points to specific episodes of the Glenn Beck show that inspired him do it. [MSNBC, Hardball with Chris Matthews, 1/12/11]
Beck Inspired Byron Williams, Who Planned Mass Murders At Tides, ACLU
On July 18, 2010, Byron Williams was stopped by California Highway Patrol and engaged in a shootout with law enforcement. He later said he was on his way to murder individuals at the Tides Foundation and ACLU.
Williams Wanted To "Start A Revolution" By "Killing People Of Importance At The Tides Foundation." On July 18, 2010, Byron Williams, a convicted felon, engaged in a shootout with police after being pulled over on I-580 in California. Williams was heavily armed, wearing body armor and wielding "a 9mm handgun, a .308-caliber rifle and a shotgun." After being taken into custody, Williams reportedly told investigators 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." [San Francisco Chronicle, 7/21/10]
Williams' Mother: Son "Was Upset" With "The Way Congress Was Railroading Through All These Left-Wing Agenda Items." The San Francisco Chronicle further reported that Williams' mother, Janice Williams, described her son as "angry at left-wing politicians" and at "what's happening to our country." The Chronicle further reported: "Williams watched the news on television and was upset by 'the way Congress was railroading through all these left-wing agenda items,' his mother said." [San Francisco Chronicle, 7/19/10]
Williams: "The Things" Beck Exposed "Blew My Mind." During an interview with reporter John Hamilton after his arrest, Williams said: "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 continued: "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. ... A year ago, I was watching him, and it was OK, he was all right, you know? ... But now he's getting it." [Media Matters, 10/11/10]
Williams Was Driven By Belief In Conspiracy Theories That Have Been Pushed By Beck. Hamilton wrote that in one letter to him, Williams "repeatedly cites Beck when discussing the Soros-Obama-Petrobras story and insists I check out Beck's 'June' shows." Hamilton continued:
In his letter to me, Byron writes: "I have been praying for a media advocate; one, to make people aware of why I'm in here (public opinion could help me), and two, to make people realize that corrupt killers are in power, and want re-election! I was also fearful that this issue would be 'burried.' "
Byron writes, "You want to know about Soros and Tides, yes, Glenn Beck is doing very well uncovering his wickedness, check his 'June' programs for 'Petrobraz', also look into 'DiscoverTheNetworks.com.' "
Byron also writes that "very good information regarding 'Petrobraz' can be found in Glenn Beck's 'June' shows, where he accurately covered the Obama-Soros-Petrobraz-Chicago (Crime Inc.) connections for several days. It's all true."
Byron adds that he "found allusions to the Horizon disaster as a 'false-flag' operation in Alex Jones 'Info.Wars.com' and 'PrisonPlanet.com.' "
"Think like a conspiracy theorist," Byron tells me during the interview. "Except don't use the word 'theory.' Because the conspiracies are not theories. The official report is the lie; the conspiracy is the truth."
Byron says he thinks Beck has improved in recent months. "I don't think he's a natural newscaster, you know what I mean?" he says. "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." [Media Matters, 10/11/10]
Williams On Beck: He Denies "Violent Approach" and "Conspiracies" To "Protect Himself. ... I Understand What He's Doing." In his interview with Hamilton, Williams also said that "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." Williams continued:
"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.
"Because it's gonna be too many -- it's gonna be more and more people that are, you know -- when you become unemployed, desperate, you can no longer pay your bills, when your society has come to a standstill, and cannot grow anymore, you're becoming socialized, everything, you know -- companies are moving overseas, what do you think is gonna happen? You know, for crying out loud. It's gonna get worse. And more and more people are gonna get desperate." [Media Matters, 10/11/10]
Beck Linked With Stoking "Fears" That Caused Charles Wilson To Threaten Murray
In October 2010, Charles Murray was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for threatening Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) with "violence" in phone calls to her office.
Wilson Said He "Want[ed] To [Expletive] Kill" Murray Because Of The Passage Of Health Care Legislation. In an April 6 article, Politico reported that Wilson "allegedly called Murray's office on numerous occasions" saying that she " 'had a target on her back,' and 'I want to [expletive] kill you,' according to court documents." Politico also reported that Wilson "allegedly told undercover FBI agents that he carries a concealed firearm with a permit, and said he was 'extremely angry' with the passage of health care legislation." The article continued:
On March 23, the day President Barack Obama signed the health care reform bill into law, the caller said, "I hope somebody kills you, and I hope somebody kills [the president]. Yes, die, dead."
"Not only do I say, 'Kill the Bill' I say: Kill the [expletive] senator," the caller said.
When the FBI reviewed phone records for Murray's office, it found Wilson's number appearing several times, with some calls made as early as 4:34 in the morning, according to court papers.
On April 1, an agent called Wilson's home number posing as a representative of "Patients United Now," a group that was "ostensibly" attempting to have the health care reform law repealed.
In the course of the phone call, Wilson allegedly told the officer that he regularly called Murray and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).
According to the documents, two other phrases in that conversation convinced the FBI that Wilson was man who had left the stream of threatening voicemails: He called Murray and Cantwell "Pike Street whores" and called Murray "sneaker shoes Murray" -- both phrases captured when he allegedly called the senator's office from a blocked number. The man who made the phone calls also said "they need to be strung up, and I mean put [in] the gallows" adding that "they want to come throw me in jail, they can go ahead and do that. that's fine."
The caller also mentioned that he was registered to carry a concealed weapon.
"I do pack," court documents say Wilson told the FBI agent -- a term that refers to carrying a gun. "And I will not blink...when I'm confronted, and that is a guarantee. It's not a threat, it's a guarantee." [Politico, 4/6/10]
Wilson To Murray: "Kill The Fucking Senator! ... Now That You've Passed Your Health-Care Bill, Let The Violence Begin." In court documents, federal prosecutors pointed to several voicemail messages Wilson left for Murray that raised "serious concerns," including:
"Just remember that as you are politicing for your reelection. It only takes one piece of lead. ... Kill the fucking Senator! Kill the fucking Senator! I'll donate the lead. ... Now that you've passed your health-care bill, let the violence begin. Let the violence begin."
"By your attempts to overtake this country with socialism, somebody's gonna get to you one way or another and blow your fucking brains out, and I hope it does happen. If I have the chance, I would do it."
"Kill the fucking Senator! Hang the fucking Senator! I hope somebody puts a fucking bullet between your fucking eyes. Far left liberal socialist democratic bitch. You mother-fucker. You sold the fucking people of the country out for socialism. I hope somebody fucking erasers your fucking life. Yes, I hope somebody assassinates you, you fucking bitch."
"We are going to fuck you up. We are going to fuck you up as bad as we can. Yes, the independents. The real people of this country, not you spineless fucking socialists. You better watch your fucking back, baby, because there's people gonna come after you with fucking both fucking barrels, bitch." [Media Matters, 10/28/10]
Relative: Wilson's Threats Occurred Because He "Was Under The Spell That Glenn Beck Cast." A relative of Wilson said in publicly available documents filed in federal court that Wilson's "fears were grown and fostered by Mr. Beck's persuasive personality" and that Wilson's actions occurred because he "was under the spell that Glenn Beck cast." In a September 17 letter, Wilson's cousin wrote:
What happened later with Charlie is something I think I can understand. He became basically housebound due to illness and his small world became even smaller. His brother got him a computer and he was able to stay connected with family. And he watched television and found Glenn Beck... I found Glenn Beck about the same time Charlie did. I understand how his fears were grown and fostered by Mr. Beck's persuasive personality. The same thing happened to me but I went in a different direction with what I was seeing. Rather than blame politicians for the current issues, I simply got prepared for what Glenn said was coming. I slowly filled our pantry as Glenn fed fear into me. I did not miss watching his show and could not understand why the rest of the world didn't get it -- Glenn became a pariah to me. But I was finally able to step away and realize the error of my ways. The media lost its grip on me. But it still held very tightly to Charlie.
While his actions were undeniably wrong and his choices were terrible, in part they were the actions of others played out by a very gullible Charlie. He was under the spell that Glenn Beck cast, aided by the turbulent times in our economy. I don't believe that Charlie even had the ability to actually carry out his threats. [Media Matters, 10/28/10]
Fox Allegedly Inspired Gregory Giusti To Repeatedly Threaten To Destroy Pelosi's Home
In December 2010, Gregory Lee Giusti was sentenced to a year and nine months in federal prison for threatening to destroy former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's home if she voted in support of the health care reform law.
Giusti Admitted To Making "More Than 30 Phone Calls" Threatening Pelosi Not To Support Health Care Reform. The Associated Press reported in April 2010 that in one recorded call, "Giusti said, 'if you pass this freaking health care plan don't bother coming back to California cause you ain't gonna have a place to live,' according to a transcript of the message included in an amended complaint." The AP added: "Officials said the caller often recited Pelosi's home address and said if she wanted to see it again, she should not support the health care overhaul bill that since has been enacted. Giusti left at least two recorded messages containing threats involving one of Pelosi's residences in Northern California, according to the complaint." [The Associated Press, 4/8/10]
Giusti Called Pelosi "A Witch" And Said He Didn't Like Her Pushing Health Care Bill "Down The People's Throats." The AP further reported that Giusti "told investigators he had phoned Pelosi about a half-dozen times, called her a witch and said he did not like her 'pushing the health care bill down the people's throats,' the complaint stated." [The Associated Press, 4/8/10]
Giusti's Mother Blamed Fox News For Son's Actions. During an interview with the local San Francisco ABC affiliate, Giusti's mother, Eleanor Giusti, stated that Fox News was a factor in her son's actions. She stated:
ELEANOR GIUSTI: Greg has -- frequently gets in with a group of people that have really radical ideas and that are not consistent with myself or the rest of the family and -- which gets him into problems. And apparently I would say this must be another one that somehow he's gotten onto either by -- I'd say Fox News or all of those that are really radical, and he -- that's where he comes from. [ABC's San Francisco affiliate, KGO-TV, 4/7/10]