The top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee responded to Media Matters' story on alleged gunman Byron Williams' affinity for Glenn Beck by warning that public figures need to be aware of the impact of their words.
Yesterday, Media Matters posted the report revealing that Williams' alleged plot was inspired by conspiracy theories peddled by Beck and other right-wing media figures.
According to police, Williams said he wanted to start a "revolution" by killing employees of the Tides Foundation and the ACLU.
Asked to comment on the consequences of extremist rhetoric generally and the Byron Williams/Beck story in particular, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said in an e-mail statement: "It is important that everyone in public life, whether on the right or on the left, realize that words have consequences."
King appeared on Beck's CNN Headline News show in 2008.
A spokeswoman for Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), meanwhile, said it was unfair to criticize Beck for the Williams incident. Hatch was a Beck guest on multiple occasions in 2009.
"If someone commits a violent act, it is another subject. They must be held accountable," said Antonia Ferrier, the Hatch spokesperson. "But [Beck and others] have the right to express themselves; we would never try to curtail the rights of individuals. No one should fault Glenn Beck or anyone else for raising legitimate concerns against the government."
She also noted, "Glenn Beck has touched a nerve in this country - he is a force to be reckoned with."
- Byron Williams